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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Ashes media watch
Front pages, back pages, souvenir sections and pull-outs have been dedicated to England's regaining of the Ashes following a draw in the fifth Test at the Oval.

After what is being hailed as the most thrilling series ever, the English media is saturated with celebratory reports and images of the nation's first Ashes triumph over Australia since 1987.

"Fantashtic", "Urncredible", "They're ours", On top of the world", "At last", and "A glorious end to England's summer" are just some of the headlines saluting England's heroes.

From Andrew Flintoff to Michael Vaughan to the tiny battered urn which is cricket's ultimate prize, there is a picture to complement the thousands of words capturing the magic of the summer's epic sporting encounter.

Inevitably, there is a more sober style of reporting emanating from Australia, with the Sydney Morning Herald simply stating "England regain the Ashes".

THE ENGLISH VIEW

The Times' back page headline reads simply "Cricket's coming home", with a photo of Kevin Pietersen, arms raised in celebration of his maiden Test hundred, the sole image.

...an innings of neurotic violence, of eccentric watchfulness, of brainless impetuosity and incontinent savagery - it was an extraordinary innings, a masterpiece and it secured the Ashes for England
Times chief sports writer Simon Barnes

Inside, Pietersen's efforts are described as a "tour de force", magnificent" and "the perfect highlight", while "Flintoff hails Pietersen on unbelievable day".

England's supporters are also mentioned, acclaimed as their country's "twelfth man" and congratulated for their sportsmanship as well as their partisan vocals.

The Daily Express backs up its claim that "other national worries were forgotten as our heroic cricket team celebrated reclaiming the ancient sporting prize" by almost ignoring other stories.

"Even the looming petrol crisis failed to dent the mood", it adds. And inside the front cover, a double-page spread declares "The Ashes are back home".

The headline "KP sends the nation nuts" seems to have more than a ring of truth to it.

The Independent has more praise for Pietersen, claiming he tamed Warne with his fearlessness to win the Ashes for England.

James Lawton says Pietersen is a bludgeoning giant following in Botham's shoes, while David Llewellyn rates the batsman's "swashbuckling knock" as the stuff of legend.

Elsewhere, Australia are said to have been "beaten fair and square by England's spirit" and the paper insists "no-one could doubt that England deserve to win the series".

The Guardian's front page, below a picture of that man again, Pietersen, carries the headline "Haircut 100. To England, the Ashes".

Kevin Pietersen celebrates his maiden Test century
Pietersen sealed England's Ashes success with a typically flamboyant knock
The batsmen's epic innings has not entirely distracted the paper from his streaked hair and jewellery.

It comments: "A fellow sporting 50,000-worth of diamond ear studs and apparently wearing a dead skunk under his helmet enabled England to tear the Ashes... from Australia's grasp."

But the paper acknowledges that Pietersen's innings was of such quality that "even the Australian players joined in the applause for his century".

The Daily Mirror, rather than opting for the "coming home" angle, screams: "They think it's all Oval... it is now".

And the paper continues its football comparison by saying there are "shades of '66 for England's new heroes" in their Ashes victory.

Ian Botham claims it marks the "dawning of a new era in which England are the best cricket team in the world".

The sense of occasion is certainly not lost on Oliver Holt, who believes "Our kids will tell their own grandkids about this day".

Australia's view, given by News Limited's chief cricket writer Robert Craddock, is printed upside down to represent the shift in power between England and Australia.

Craddock feels Australia were "Outbatted, outbowled, outplanned, outfielded". "Enjoy it, England", he says "You deserve it!"

The Daily Telegraph carries a "celebration supplement" with a picture of Michael Vaughan holding the Ashes urn.

Simon Hughes believes the England skipper "heads a new generation of legends".

He gives six reasons why England won the Ashes - from having a superior pace attack to possessing a greater cohesion and inner strength.

Ultimately, says Hughes, England had two match-winners in Pietersen and Flintoff while Australia had only Warne.

However, Australian journalist Peter Fitzsimons tells England to "Enjoy it now, they'll be ours again in 2007".

He warns: "We have already begun our run-up. We are coming for you. We are coming to get what's ours."

THE AUSTRALIAN VIEW

The Sydney Morning Herald concedes England were deserved winners after dominating the last four Tests of the series.

Chloe Saltau writes: "It was a fitting series result for a team that outplayed the world champion for most of the series and a finale that did perfect justice to the drama that had unfolded in the previous four Tests."

Ricky Ponting
Ponting is now under pressure, says the Aussie media
The Australian says Australia's defeat has led to reflections over the age of the side - and whether the team was beaten by a better one or simply too old to cut it any longer.

Already there are calls for wholesale changes, or at the very least intense scrutiny of the players currently in the Test side.

Malcolm Conn believes: "The selectors must decide quickly whether the winds of change will blow through the side for the Super Series against the Rest of the World in Melbourne and Sydney next month.

"Continuing failures in that intense programme of three one-day matches and a six-day Test must be punished.

"Otherwise fading batsmen will fill their boots against the hapless, hopeless West Indian bowlers during the three-Test series this October, giving a false impression that everything is okay."

But, according to selector and former Test batsman David Boon, Australia need to be wary of making too many changes at once.

He said: "Sometimes you're going to have to make a hard decision to keep a subtle rotation going through so you don't have mass retirements."

The Herald Sun admits England's Ashes victory ends an era, blaming Pietersen for breaking Australian hearts.

The batsman's record of seven sixes in an innings against Australia is mentioned, along with the congratulations he received from Shane Warne.

It also reflects on Ricky Ponting's captaincy and whether he will resign.

But regardless of Ponting's future it is clear that Australia are set to make changes.

The paper says the team will undergo a major shake-up of its coaching structure and training methods.




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