Celebrate great times
The Ashes Panel say England should party hard, then play harder to ensure they wrap up the series in Sydney.
Last Updated: 30/12/10 9:16am
Party hard, then play harder and win this Ashes series 3-1.
That's The Ashes Panel's advice after England retained the urn in momentous fashion in Melbourne.
Sir Ian Botham, David Gower, Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain all agree that the tourists have outplayed Australia in every department but one aspect of history remains unchanged: it is still 24 years since England last won an Ashes series in Australia.
Here's how the four former England captains reacted to that thumping innings and 157-run victory at the MCG and their thoughts on the fifth and final Test...
Beefy: England fans can be very proud of their team. England have talked the talk for a long time on many previous tours but they've actually walked the walk here. They'll now want to win the series in style; 2-1 isn't good enough because they feel it's their time and you know what? It is. They are a far superior team to Australia and let's all enjoy that.
David: It's 24 years ago almost to the day that an England team, which I can say very proudly that Ian and I were part of, won the Ashes in Australia and the celebrations went on for a long, long time.
Beefy: About four days as I recall! It's wonderful to beat Australia in England - it's a great moment and it means a lot to you - but when you come over here and you beat Australia in their own backyard that is very special; you will never forget it. You try and tell the players that but I don't think they are quite aware of it until now. Now that they've done it they will enjoy it and they should enjoy it because they've worked hard as a unit and the bowlers have hunted in packs and the batsmen have performed well too. Quite often you're happy if you get two of your top-six playing well - but in general England have had four or five. So that's all good from an England point of view.
Athers: This has been the best prepared, best drilled England outfit that I've seen in my lifetime. There were some doubts before the tour over how James Anderson and Graeme Swann would perform here. As it has turned out Anderson, who got five wickets at 80 on the last tour, has led the attack superbly while Swann has done a pretty good job even though he is averaging 37 for his wickets.
Beefy: The one who has really shone for me is Chris Tremlett - I think he is a real handful. He's only going to get better, more confident. His control, economy rate and wicket-taking ability has been highly impressive. He's got 13 wickets in two Tests at 19 apiece - that's pretty good stats.
Athers: Anderson has also bowled superbly. He's got masterful control now and he's quick enough. He's got a really easy run-up which doesn't seem to take anything out of him so he can bowl for long periods of time. But the key for the bowlers is that they knew when they created chances they would be taken. The side's fielding has been better than any I've seen from any England team, which is a great help to the four-man attack.
David: There will be talk about the quality of the Australian side that was up against them. There are some players there who are not great but there are some too, like Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke, who have very good records. England have succeeded in keeping those very good players down as well as taking advantage of the lesser players that are there.
Nass: It's not a great Australian side but it is still a very good Australian side and coming to Australia and winning in these conditions is the hardest part. You've got to separate what the players feel and what the public feel. To Strauss and Flower this is just a stepping stone, to be honest - you can bet your last dollar that they are talking about going to Sydney and winning and winning the series. That will give them the platform to moving past Australia. They feel they are the better side. That's the feeling within the camp. To us, who have played the game and been beaten out here for 20-odd years and to the public who have watched us getting hammered out here, this is a very, very special moment. We want to beat Australia because of years of pain.
Beefy: We do have this terrible habit, don't we? When we play well, people often perceive it as the opposition being rubbish. But the facts are that England are a good team now and you can only beat the opposition that's put in front of you. A lot of people didn't think England could win when they came out here but they've put that fear to bed. They've been very, very professional. I actually think the more trouble for Australia the better. Let them get on with it, I'm not bothered. England march on.David: There have been some notable performances from the players. I'm going to pick out one to start with - Alastair Cook, who had a poor summer against the moving ball. As it stands now he is the leading run-scorer in the series. It's been a fabulous performance from him.
Nass: It really has. It wasn't a good time to come to Australia. He didn't get many runs out here the last time. He hasn't got a good record against Australia up until this series and he had a very poor summer in England so it shows a lot of mental strength to come at the top of the order and perform. That's been the difference between the two sides. England have not been in a crisis - two of their top three (Trott and Cook) are the leading run-getters, with Mike Hussey, who is a middle-order player, in between them. So unlike England here and on the tour of 1986/87 when Chris Broad scored those hundreds, Australia have constantly been in a crisis with their top-order batting.
David: I remember writing before this tour began that if England get good starts that puts them in a good position because that was the cornerstone of 86/87 when Chris Broad was man-of-the-summer for his three consecutive hundreds.
Beefy: Everyone else relaxes and it brings calm to the dressing room. That's why Australia are all over the place. The poor old captain comes off the field after England declare and suddenly four balls later he's out there.
David: Australia were ok at Perth because they had a pitch that suited their attack, Mitchell Johnson in particular. Having a complete enigma in your side like Johnson is another thing that doesn't help a captain; he bowled garbage in Brisbane, got left out, came back in Perth and did the job, then returned to bowling garbage in Melbourne. What are you supposed to do?
Nass: They do what they've done, which is to bring in Steve Smith, because they don't know what they are going to get from Johnson; they need an extra bowling option without weakening their batting, which is struggling, so they pick someone who does a bit of both to cover. If Johnson bowls well, like at Perth, then Smith doesn't have to bowl at all. If he doesn't bowl well then Smith has to bowl a few filthy overs of leg-breaks and get some runs at number six. It's like all of the issues we used to have when you feel as though you are one batsman or one bowler short and it all gets a bit complicated.
Beefy: Johnson looks very fragile to me because the captain is always walking up to him and walking back with him with the ball. When he's bowled a loose ball and he's walking back he goes through his action - that's weakness to me; it's all stuff you don't show the opposition. To think that he was international cricketer of the year in 2009 is quite remarkable. The rest of the world were playing then, were they?
David: Whatever you are doing in Test cricket a strong, clear mind is your strongest ally.
Beefy: Absolutely. Look at Jonathan Trott. At the end of England's innings, instead of walking off with his bat under his arm he was still scratching away at the crease. I don't think he realised the innings was over! I said to the England boys does he know he's not batting today and they said 'probably not' - that's the bubble he's in.
David: Whether you like his style or not the man is exemplary; the fact is he's got a whole stack of runs since he made his debut in an Ashes Test. He loves Ashes cricket! Looking beyond the next Test, how strong is this unit now and how likely are they to build on this success?
Nass: The 2005 series was climbing the mountain. It hadn't happened for so long that it was such a relief to win that they did take their eye off the ball a little bit. But now winning the Ashes is becoming a bit more of a regular occurrence; this England side expected to beat Australia, they don't fear them at all. For that reason I don't think this side will get too high; they will just see it as a stepping stone to greater things.
David: They'll enjoy the celebrations but in a couple of day's time they'll be refocused on finishing on that high note, won't they?
Beefy: That's exactly what they'll do. They'll enjoy the next two days before travelling up to Sydney on New Year's Eve. They'll have an evening out then, I'm sure, and then they'll be straight back into it on New Year's Day. They've earned that little break. Two full days of preparation is fine at this stage; they are on a high so let them go.
Nass: The one thing England mustn't do is what Australia have done to us. You're 4-0 down, Australia turn up, take their eye off the ball and let you win the last Test, as they have done in the past at Sydney and the Oval. England mustn't hand that back to them; they are the better side and they must keep the Australians down.
Beefy: I can't see them coming back. I think this defeat knocked the stuffing out of them. I think this is a big, big psychological blow. Andy Flower is a very proud man. He said a year-and-a-half ago that he wants to win an Ashes series in Australia. He's on the brink of achieving it. The players will want to put that 24-year record to bed and I hope they do, I really do, because it's well overdue.
Catch 'The Ashes Retained: England's heroes' at 8pm on Thursday on Sky Sports HD2 and SS2.