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English media goes to town

LONDON: England's first Ashes triumph over Australia for almost two decades triggered off widespread celebrations in the British media on Tuesday.

"On top of the world," ran one headline while another, in The Daily Telegraph, read "A glorious end to England's summer."

"Cricket's coming home," declared The Times in a reference to the Ashes being regained by England after Australia's record eight series victories in a row before Monday.

England's victorious cricketers were treated as national heroes by tens of thousands of cheering Londoners as they paraded through the streets of the capital in an open-top red double-decker bus.

Dressed in dark suits and ties and accompanied by their wives and children, the players smiled and waved to the crowds a day after they regained the Ashes trophy from Australia for the first time in 18 years.

Dozens of police officers in fluorescent yellow jackets marched beside the slow-moving bus, followed by a similar bus with the English women's cricket team, as the parade moved past St. Paul's Cathedral to Trafalgar Square.

England, which lost the opening Test at Lord's by 229 runs before clinching the series 2-1 after drawing the fifth and final match at the Oval, last won the Ashes in 1986-87.

"After 16 years in which the national cricket team have touched the most abysmal depths of incompetence, England have risen dizzily, proudly and at times rather uncertainly to the loftiest peak their sport can offer," reported The Times.

"After 16 years, a phoenix takes wing from the ashes of defeatism," The Guardian spoke of England's "phenomenal summer" and Kevin Pietersen's "astounding maiden Test century" which brought him the man-of-the-match award.

However, The Guardian also said: "There has been no greater champion this summer than (Australia leg spinner Shane) Warne and yesterday he added a further six wickets to the half-dozen he took in the first innings."

Queen's congratulations

As celebrations broke out across the country, Queen Elizabeth II sent her congratulations to the England players for their "magnificent achievement of regaining the Ashes."

"This has been a truly memorable series and both sides can take credit for giving us all such a wonderfully exciting and entertaining summer of cricket at its best," she said.

"It has brought cricket alive in Britain and even around the world," said David Folb, chairman of the Lashings Cricket Club, a celebrity team. Despair Down Under

A virtual groan rumbled across the dusty Australian continent on Tuesday, gathering magnitude as it sunk in for inhabitants from Fraser Island to Fremantle that England had ended its record-long Ashes drought.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard broke from a UN summit in New York to commend England's performance.

"It's been an amazing series, a wonderful series for the game of cricket, and the true victor in this series has been this wonderful game that so many of us love," Howard told reporters. "I do congratulate England, I commiserate with (Australian captain) Ricky Ponting and the Australian team.

Calls for inquest

A major shake-up of Australian cricket is expected in the wake of relinquishing the Ashes to England after a titanic five-Test series, Australian media said.

While consensus on talkback radio in Australia was that England thoroughly deserved its series victory and that it was a fillip for cricket overall, there will be a fall-out over this hard-felt defeat.

"The selectors must decide quickly on 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," The Australian's Malcolm Conn said. "Continuing failures in that intense programme of three one-day matches and a six-day Test must be punished."

Coach John Buchanan's future is on the line with his contract with Cricket Australia about to expire. — Agencies

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