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Sport salutes England heroes

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England’s cricketers were the pride of British sport after winning the Ashes for the first time since their 1986-87 tour of Australia.

Their success was felt not only in a cricketing sense but from an all-sport perspective.

Sports minister Richard Caborn said: “This is a fantastic victory and congratulations to Michael Vaughan and the team.

“Congratulations also should go to the England and Wales Cricket Board because it is a reward for their investment in cricket and the modernisation programme they have had in place for the last few years.

Richard Caborn

Sports minister Richard Caborn led the tributes

“It's a double whammy with the England women's cricket team also winning the Ashes and comes at the time of a real renaissance in the game with more young people having coaching than there has been for many years.”

The Football Association offered their own message of congratulations after the drawn Oval Test, which secured the 2-1 npower Test Series win.

England paired resilience with flair in their second innings as Kevin Pietersen’s 158 ruined Australia’s hopes of rooting out the home side cheaply.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick said: “On behalf of the FA I would like to congratulate the England team for their remarkable achievement in winning back the Ashes.

“Their fantastic performances throughout the summer have gripped the nation and rightly so. In recognition of their achievement, we will be joining the celebrations by lighting up the arch at the new Wembley Stadium this evening.”

Jenson Button, third in the Belgian Grand Prix at the weekend, declared: “I am very patriotic so I'm really glad we have won it. We have been great all series so I am very pleased.”

The achievement by Vaughan’s side ends Australia’s domination, which began on their triumphant 1989 tour of England.

England’s rugby players also broke Australia hearts with their conquest of the home side in the 2003 World Cup final.

Ashes celebrations

© Getty Images

Andy Robinson, who has since replaced Sir Clive Woodward as head coach of the England side, was delighted the cricketers had been able to follow the rugby team’s lead.

“I would like to congratulate Duncan Fletcher and the whole England cricket team on their outstanding Ashes victory,” said Robinson.

“The series has captivated the nation and I hope that everyone involved with the win enjoys the celebrations that will deservedly follow.”

RFU president LeRoy Angel said: “I am sure this win will provide a further boost to English sport. Very many congratulations to the England cricket team and the ECB.”

There were further messages of support from former ECB chief executive Tim Lamb, who has since taken up a similar role with the Central Council of Physical Recreation, and UK Sport chief executive John Steele.

Tim Lamb

Lamb (left) said: “No-one is more thrilled than I that we have beaten Australia. We have suffered a few years of hurt but we have been building towards this for a good number of years too.

“Now we have the structures and building blocks in place to go on from this high point and if England can retain the Ashes in 18 months' time, they will rightly be called the best side in the world.”

Steele added: “The Ashes series has shown sport at its very best; the levels of skill on display matched only by the competitive instincts and positive spirit of both sides. England’s win is a fantastic boost to British sport.”

Great Britain’s rugby league head coach Brian Noble, whose team face Australia in the Gillette Tri-Nations Series later this year, hopes the cricket result has a knock-on effect.

“Look at what it's done, everybody is talking about cricket,” said Noble. “It's raised the profile of cricket and it's given the whole country a huge lift whichever sport you play or watch.”

The Rugby Football League joined in the congratulations for England’s Ashes triumph, with RFL Executive Chairman Richard Lewis commenting: “We believe the England cricket team’s victory in the Ashes will be tremendous for British sport and we congratulate all of them on their magnificent performance.

“The Ashes series has been fantastically competitive but the respect between the players and the positive atmosphere this has created is a tremendous advert for what sport can do to foster and build relationships.

“The series has also demonstrated the positive effect that sport can have in wider society and we wish England all the best for their richly deserved victory parade.”

From golf, European Tour executive director George O’Grady spoke of a “summer series which illuminated the entire sporting world”, while Manchester United issued a statement describing England’s victory as “their outstanding achievement”.

United added: “It has been a great year for British sport, with an Ashes win and Britain's successful bid for 2012 Olympic Games. These are historic moments which deserve to be recognised.”

Michael Vaughan

© Getty Images

Also in football, League Managers Association chief executive John Barnwell said: “The whole series has been spellbinding - one of the greatest sporting confrontations of my lifetime.

“It is a historic achievement for England to have won back the Ashes. To say well done is is nowhere near sufficient and while this doesn’t match World Cup victory in football, it’s right up there with England’s rugby team who won the World Cup two years ago.

“Cricket has never had more exposure than it’s been given now and this is a marvellous opportunity to increase the popularity of the game. Youngsters will now be looking to get involved.”

Professional Football Association chief executive Mick McGuire predicted the start of a glorious era for English cricket.

“Their success will galvanise the public in the same way England’s football team did during Euro 96. It has lifted people’s lives,” said McGuire.

“The players must also be congratulated because it’s one thing to win the Ashes, but another to do it in the last game when they were favourites and under enormous pressure. They’ve shown real resolve and spirit.”

Double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes added her own tribute.

The 800m and 1,500m champion from Athens last summer said: “I’m not an avid cricket fan but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the crowd were fantastic when I went to The Oval yesterday.

“I love watching England win whatever the sport is, but for the cricket team not only to win back the Ashes after such a long time, but also on home territory, was magnificent.

“Doing it here was really good for sport in general. Things do go around in circles but it is great for cricket that the achievement has revived massive interest in the game.”

David Moorcroft, the chief executive of UK Athletics, said: “It was a fantastic victory by the team and I know when something like this happens it lifts everyone in other English sport to try even harder for team and individual honours.

“It is a huge achievement and a welcome success after the criticism cricket has suffered in the past. Fighting back, their performance is an example to everyone wishing to achieve at the highest level.”

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, cricket fanatic who is on tour in the US, added: “It's a fantastic achievement. Congratulations to Michael Vaughan and the whole team.

“It has been a great series played in the best spirit and I wish I could have been there to witness it in person. We will be raising our glasses in New York.”

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, said: “The triumph by Michael Vaughan’s team in regaining the Ashes is the magnificent climax to an extraordinary summer of high-quality sporting entertainment.

“This summer’s Tests against Australia have been a huge boost for cricket in this country.

“I hope that out of the Ashes will come yet more success for the England team - and a big growth in interest in cricket at grassroots level, especially in our schools and among young people.”

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