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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Justin Langer column
Australia opener Justin Langer writes for BBC Sport on every day of the Ashes series
By Justin Langer
Australia Test batsman

Body weary and mentally exhausted, I am digging deep into my mind to find a way to best describe my true feeling about the Ashes series.

In what has been the pinnacle of my career, I have enjoyed the cricket in this battle more than any I have been fortunate enough to play in before.

It was brilliant, old fashioned, hard, tough cricket that was as enjoyable as it was taxing.

Brett Lee and Justin Langer
Langer and Lee look on as England celebrate
There was hardly a minute throughout where the intensity wasn't at a level that has exceeded most contests I have been a part of in the past.

Regardless of the final result, I am immensely proud to have been one of the players involved in this series, which has brought this wonderful game into the forefront of people's minds both in England and in Australia.

I am also proud to have been a part of a series that was played in such great spirit.

There was a sense of humility between both teams; a reflection of the enormous respect developed over 10 weeks of cut-throat, nail-biting cricket that was as much a test of nerve and temperament as it was a game between bat and ball.

Cricket has a way of uncovering character in people and over the course of this series many heroes have emerged.

It has also been very interesting for me to see how people have reacted under this extra pressure.

More can be learned about character when times are tough than when the atmosphere is one of comfort and cotton wool.

Having won almost everything in the last five years, there have been times when we have hardly been tested.

Now that we have, it could turn out to be the best thing that has happened to Australian cricket for a long time.

There haven't been any ticker tape parades or fanfare for years for our team. It has almost been taken for granted that we will keep winning. In some series it has been this expectation that has caused the most angst.

Of course we all love winning more than losing but in this series I can say without hesitation that there is no disgrace in being beaten by a team whose unity and talent is undeniable.

Even when England may have folded on Monday and given us an opportunity, they held firm, wrestled the momentum and eventually wore us out of the contest
It would be easy to sit and make excuses or find reasons why we have lost this series but full credit must go to England.

In the past Australia have felt sustained pressure brings about a disjointed and hesitant England outfit, but in this series there has been a sense of an entirely different attitude.

Even when England may have folded on Monday and given us an opportunity, they held firm, wrestled the momentum and eventually wore us out of the contest.

Ironically this was achieved by two players who epitomise this 'new England'.

The flashy, super-confident Kevin Pietersen played one of the best Test innings I have ever seen. Everything considered, his brutal display was quite simply amazing.

At the other end was the worker, the not so flashy but incredibly efficient Ashley Giles.

As he has done many times before, he battled away with no fuss, before eventually walking over the line, this time with the Ashes in his hand.

Much has been said about Andrew Flintoff's supreme effort over these five Tests but it was England's unity that caused us the greatest obstacle.

While we had a few brilliant performances throughout - Shane Warne in particular - the glaring difference to me was that England's team clicked together better than we did.

No doubt there will be more analysis about this series but for now it is time to rest up and reflect on one of the greatest times and lessons of my career.

I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

From Perth, JL



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