Giles: Memories will last forever
Ashley Giles believes England’s memories of winning the Ashes for the first time since 1986 will stay with them “forever”.
The spinner had to contend with severe criticism following defeat in the first npower Test at Lord’s but had the last laugh as his 58 in the final match at The Brit Oval, along with a magnificent 158 from Kevin Pietersen, clinched the series.
“There were a few doubters but I think we always believed we could come back,” said Giles, who wrote an exclusive Ashes diary on ecb.co.uk throughout the summer.
“We know we are a good side and knew we could do well, and that’s what we have done for the last four matches.
“I really enjoyed yesterday, being out there with Kevin - those sort of memories stay with you forever.”
In the changing room, Giles admitted he was “hiding at the back”.
He told Sky Sports News: “At times I felt physically sick. You can see how much it means to everyone.
“At the moment it feels like the end of another game. But winning the Ashes after 18 years is something special.
“The country has been completely gripped by cricket. It’s our responsibility to raise the profile and I guess we have done that.”
Giles revealed the camaraderie in the squad had helped England to victory.
“We are all great mates. You can see that in the way we reacted after winning this series, we all get on.”
As for whether England can go on to displace Australia as the leading Test team in the world, he added: “That’s a big call.
“We have to go to the Sub-continent this winter and do well, but we hold the Ashes and that’s the most important thing.
“I’m the old man of the side but we have got a few years together and hopefully are still progressing. It bodes well for the future.”
Pietersen admitted he had still not fully absorbed the enormity of his achievement after he steered England to a draw and subsequent victory in the Ashes.
Pietersen came to the crease with England stuttering but his 158 guided the team to a draw, inflicting particular damage on Hampshire team-mate Shane Warne.
“It is pretty difficult to say personally how I feel,” said Pietersen (left). “I think I will feel it today or tomorrow.
“This is the first time I have seen the public since the game. It will probably sink in in a couple of days’ time.”
The South African-born batsman was relishing the attention of the public who had become absorbed by the Ashes series over the summer.
Hundreds were gathered outside the team’s hotel and Pietersen was given a huge cheer.
“Just to have a look and see what is happening is pretty special,” he added.
“It is amazing, fantastic - for the profile of the game - and there is an absolute buzz. As English cricketers it is amazing.”
He described the “camaraderie and friendship” that has been engendered by the England team, saying: “We are friends who enjoy each each others’ success.”
Australia still head the world rankings but Pietersen insists England have their sights set on supplanting them.
“We are not the greatest side but we are working towards it,” he said. “Hopefully in 2007 we can come back to Britain and have the same type of celebrations.”
Opener Marcus Trescothick believes his team-mates will only realise their achievements when the euphoria over the victory has faded.
“You don’t really appreciate it as it’s happening, but maybe we will in a few weeks time,” he said.
The Somerset batsman also believes Pietersen’s 158 at The Oval will eventually be remembered as one of the great innings.
“Sensational,” he said. “In that sort of environment you can’t put it into context, I think we’ll look back at it in a few weeks and realise exactly how special it was.
“I didn’t watch much from the balcony, I was too nervous so I watched it out the back on the TV. I could only just sit there and take in what was going on, the crowd were terrific and the atmosphere was fantastic.”
Trescothick added: “We enjoy our success, it’s been a great 18 months and those moments have been special - but none as special as now.”
Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood, who was brought in to replace injured bowler Simon Jones for the final npower Test, added on Sky Sports News: “We’ve got the celebrations today then we can go back home and reflect on what we have achieved.
“We’ll go out and enjoy the crowds and the support we’ve had, with everyone at Trafalgar Square it is something we’ll always remember.
“We have to continue what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years, we can’t go overboard and say we’re the best in the world - we’ve just got to progress. We’re young enough to do that.”