Vaughan stunned by Ashes fever
Michael Vaughan emerged from England’s mammoth Ashes party admitting the scale of their achievement only became clear when they witnessed the frenzied celebrations on the streets of London.
Captain Vaughan led his team on an open-top bus ride around the capital to Trafalgar Square and was greeted by thousands of cheering fans delighted at England’s achievement in reclaiming the Ashes for the first time since 1989.
The team were also presented to the Prime Minister at Downing Street before finishing the dramatic day with another reception at Lord’s attended by England and Wales Cricket Board chairman David Morgan and chief executive David Collier.
It was an impressive show of support for England’s first Ashes series victory since 1986-87 and Vaughan admitted: “We woke up this morning and went down to the reception at the hotel and it was amazing to see the amount of people who were waiting outside to give us appreciation for what we’d done - some of the lads went straight from the bar!
“To see that amount of people in the streets, hanging out of their office windows or on the roof wanting to celebrate a great summer of cricket, that is the most pleasing aspect, that cricket is now being talked about in the country.
“Two years ago when England won the Rugby World Cup, you saw the response they got when they got back. There were parts of me then thinking: ’will this ever happen to cricket?’ and ’would I ever be part of anything which could make that happen?’
“I thought the Ashes were important, but I didn’t realise how important until I saw the amount of people who turned out today, and the response which the country has given the team over the past eight weeks has been quite phenomenal.”
Vaughan conceded he found it hard to take in just what England had achieved in the last few weeks and asked if he could ever have imagined a day of celebrations like that when he was growing up, he stressed: “No, not at all.
“The games which we have played have gripped the nation because of the manner they have been played and the way the team have played.
“But to actually grip a nation and to have that amount of people come and celebrate with us is amazing - it’s just England celebrating the success of the national team, which is fantastic.
“It’s a surreal moment, because I don’t think cricket has ever reached these heights and celebrations - it’s almost a blur which is going on, almost as if it is not happening.
“The celebrations will continue for the next few weeks, we will enjoy the moment. The players deserve a lot of credit, the management also have been fantastic throughout the whole summer.”
He revealed the players, many of whom had not been to bed, were particularly moved by the scenes from the bus when they were joined by their wives, girlfriends and family for the celebrations.
“There were some very emotional moments on the bus - you realise people had come to see a team which had worked so hard to win the Ashes,” he explained.
“You work so hard to win games of cricket, especially against Australia. The players have realised what success of sport does for the nation.
“People go to work with a feel-good factor, kids go to school with a smile on their face and it really hit home today what it means to people when the national team are successful.
“What’s most important is we enjoy what is given to us and thrown at us over the next few weeks. You don’t win the Ashes often, or play like we have against a very good team often.
“But what we must do is really enjoy the moments and then go to Pakistan and make sure we continue the success - they’re a young set of players who can go along way if they continue to work hard and make sure while, yes, you celebrate the Ashes, it does not go to your head.”
Vaughan and several other members of England’s line-up - notably Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen (right) - can expect their lives to change considerably over the next few weeks before they leave for a two-month tour of Pakistan at the end of October.
The mass coverage this summer’s Ashes series received has turned some of the England heroes into major celebrities while Flintoff is odds-on favourite to become the first cricketer since Ian Botham to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award later this year.
“We are obviously going to be more recognisable, are going to maybe get a few more things thrown at us, which is fantastic,” added Vaughan. “The players deserve everything which comes their way.
“To beat Australia, the number one team in the world with (Glenn) McGrath, (Shane) Warne, (Ricky) Ponting and (Matthew) Hayden, who had bullied us for many a series and got a hundred in the last Test, but up until that point we had dominated their opening batsman.
“We realise it is a life-changing achievement, and we will enjoy the next two weeks, but on October 26 we go to Pakistan and we will have to play well again - there’s no point in playing well against Australia and then just living off that.
“We have got Australia again in 18 months time, which is another chance to go and create some more history by winning over there, then there is the World Cup so there is a lot to play for and a lot of big series ahead.”