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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
The day the Aussies were beaten
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at The Oval

Fans applaud another Pietersen six

On a day of so much happiness for England fans at The Oval, it was a slight pity there was no crowning moment to put a cap on an incomparable summer.

There was plenty to celebrate when Michael Vaughan lifted a giant glass replica of the Ashes urn and led his team-mates on a slow lap of honour of the outfield.

But there was no moment that will be replayed for years to come. No stumps splattered by a yorker, no dash for the winning runs.

There was not even an on-field handshake between the captains as the rules meant it was too early for them to agree on a draw.

The game ended with a rather sombre announcement at 1815 BST, in worsening light, that there would be no further play.

It came 15 minutes or so after Justin Langer had faced the fourth and final ball of Australia's second innings and had promptly accepted the offer of light.

The crowd at The Oval got the result they wanted
The crowd at The Oval got the result they wanted

Some fans celebrated by bashing the life out of a plastic kangaroo with an inflatable truncheon.

Two young lovers simply embraced.

The most inebriated, about 30 in number, charged wildly onto the outfield, prompting a few interesting encounters with security guards.

Sobriety returned when one steward had to be stretchered off after injuring his shoulder in a clash with one of the drunken trespassers.

Most of the crowd had by then been in relaxed and jovial mood for more than two hours.

They knew the Ashes were coming home when Kevin Pietersen, having played watchfully either side of reaching his century, began whacking the ball in his merry way once again.

In the best of the evening sunshine, he hooked Brett Lee for his fifth six and thumped Shane Warne down the ground for his sixth.

The match was by now out of Australia's reach.

Now was the time to begin some gentle gloating, to sing to the Aussie fielders 'Where's your Ashes gone?'

Those with only a cursory knowledge of the sport knew that to score 270-plus in 30-odd overs was barely possible, and Pietersen was still there.

England's hero of the day was still mixing in those exaggerated forward defences and those leave-alones with the bat held high above his head.

He was getting greedy for runs, and the spectators lapped it up.

Now was the time to begin some gentle gloating, to sing to the Aussie fielders 'Where's your Ashes gone?'

Sometimes it was simply 'Cheerio' or if Glenn McGrath wandered into view '5-0, 5-0.'

The veteran Australian seamer had arrogantly predicted an Australian whitewash before the series had begun.

So the opportunity to mock was irresistible, as it was too when the giant TV screen repeatedly showed Warne dropping Pietersen at slip when his Hampshire colleague had made just 15.

That led to the eventual chant 'Warney dropped the Ashes'.

The bowler himself took it all good-naturedly - he is thick-skinned enough by now not to be affected.

Sense of relief

And when he next appeared on the third man fence, when the fans by now knew he could no longer save his side, they gave him a generous round of applause.

Briefly, a small contingent of Australian fans hit back with 'Boring, boring England'.

But they were immediately silenced when Pietersen collected four more with another rasping drive, this time off McGrath.

This new sense of relief, of simply enjoying the moment, was especially welcome after the tortuous finishes of the previous three Tests.

How different it had all been earlier in the day, particularly leading up to lunch when wickets were falling all too regularly.

At a particularly tense moment, one brave fan ventured 'Taxi for Warne' after the leg-spinner was hit by Pietersen for two sixes shortly after dropping him.

But Warne, of course, replied with the wickets of Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood and left the game intriguingly poised once again.

This time, however, despite another brilliant performance, Warne was to taste Ashes defeat at last after more than a decade of success against England.


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