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The morning after at The Oval

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Alison Mitchell | 15:52 UK time, Monday, 24 August 2009

It was very strange walking through the gates of The Oval at 7am this morning to do "morning after" reports for BBC local radio stations. "Morning after" was very much the feeling at the ground.

A sole security guard smiled a greeting at the barrier in the early sunshine, rubbish bags were piled high in the concourse waiting to be loaded into lorries, and the only activity came from two pigeons who pecked at a crumb on the floor.

Once I made my way up into the commentary box and looked out of the window, it was as if a wave of calm had settled over the ground. It was a quiet, serene view, not a person to be seen, not a movement to be detected, save for the pictures in my mind, replaying the moment the last Australian wicket fell, when the crowd erupted in mass jubilation and the urn was finally secured.

Andrew Flintoff's corner of the England dressing-roomThe only evidence of what had happened some 12 hours earlier was the mass of red and blue ticker tape strewn over the outfield. A short while later, a small band of cleaners turned up to start clearing it away - you had to feel sorry for the chap tackling an entire outfield with only a yard broom.

Once reporting duties were over (and a bacon sandwich devoured), the Oval started to creak slowly into life. Groundstaff were arriving, the dressing-room attendant pottered about. Beefy, Warnie and fellow Sky commentators had dragged themselves in and were filming in the stands.

I was lucky enough to get a peek inside the dressing-rooms, which, in England's case was still full of all their kit (most of the remnants of the celebration had been cleared away). Ian Bell's area looked very tidy, with his bats all lined up. Andrew Flintoff's less so (!) complete with a framed photo of his five-for at Lord's given to him by the MCC.

The away dressing-room is a lot smaller and less plush, but a famous feature is the white wall, which the dressing-room attendant has asked notable stars of the game to sign over the years. It was quite fun spotting the different signatures. A slot was there ready for Ashes-winning captain Andrew Strauss to sign when he returned this morning.

The dressing-room party wasn't of 2005 proportions - and rightly so for so many reasons. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower see this victory as the start of something, rather than the pinnacle. Quiet but purposeful celebrations reflected that.

Both teams stayed in the dressing-rooms until after 10.30pm and the Australians shared a drink with their opponents - good to hear. The families had joined them earlier as well, and then, for some of the players it was onto a rooftop bar near London Bridge, where, again, it was more reflective socialising, rather than wild partying.

Just as I was leaving the dressing-rooms this morning, some of the England staff started arriving to collect their gear. I had a quick chat with Stuart Broad's sister Gemma, who became the team analyst this summer and who used to perform the same role with the England women.

Hey, this will be a good pub quiz question - who's the only person to have won the Ashes twice in one year? That will be Gemma - as backroom staff with the women in July and now the men in August!

Add to that the World Cup in March and the World Twenty20 in June and she can almost claim bragging rights over her father and brother, who have now both been part of Ashes-winning sides.

Given the glimpse of the future we've seen though, Stuart will undoubtedly come out on top, given time.

The white wall that contains signatures of many former international cricketers


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    What an incredible day's Test cricket yesterday at The Oval.

    Big congrats to Andrew Strauss and his England team.

    18 months and we can do it all again down again.

    I hope the greedy administrators have learned their lesson from 2007.

    5 Test matches squeezed into 7 weeks between a mickey-mouse tourney in India and the new year round-robin one-dayers.
    England with no preparation were awful and walloped 5-0. That must not be allowed to happen again.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks Alison, good to see that despite all the competitiveness and the pressures that await the Aussie players back home, sportsmanship prevails!

  • Comment number 4.

    gemma broad is FIT

  • Comment number 5.

    We have the ashes again, thanks for the memories Andrew

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done, in any other sport I love seeing England hammered but cricket is different congrats boys

  • Comment number 7.

    Whingeing Aussies!

    How about this-

    Warne has also saved some criticism for the dusty Oval pitch which he believes England deliberately doctored.
    Warne believes the pitch - which produced huge plumes of dust and variable bounce from the first day - gave an unfair advantage to England when it batted first.

    "No one expected this pitch but you would have to say it has been doctored to produce a result," he said. "With the wicket, what you want is a fair contest.

    "But this was an ordinary wicket. There was too much favouring whoever won the toss.

    "On these sort of wickets it lowers the standard ... every bowler becomes dangerous."

    Funny thing is, the Aussie bowlers didn't look dangerous. They were playing on the same strip, weren't they Warney?

  • Comment number 8.

    "No one expected this pitch but you would have to say it has been doctored to produce a result," he said. "With the wicket, what you want is a fair contest.


    Sorry Warney but the figures just don't stack up. When the first, third and fourth innings produce pretty much the same number of runs then that means the pitch held up fine. It was dusty, it was quite viscious, but it did not deteriorate noticeably from the second morning onwards.

    As for it being doctored, of course it was, it was meant to be a result pitch because the draw did not suit England. Even then it was not overly so. England managed 700 runs on it and had the Aussies not collapsed so ridiculously in that single session on day two they would have done the same and the match would have likely ended in the Afternoon of day 5, which sounds about when you would want most matches to be aiming to finish, unless you are biased towards a draw of course ;).

    It amazes me that even in the face of overwhelming evidence people like Warne seem determined to blame a pitch that allowed a fourth innings score of 350 for Australias's one session collapse on day two! Your batsmen simply lost it when they needed to remain calm and play out the overs. Take the defeat with good grace, go away and come back stronger next time, after all we all want to see a strong Australia side again, it's what makes the Ashes so important.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just want to congratulate England on winning the ashes, just sorry Michael Vaughan wasn't in the team again. However well done to Andrew Strauss and his tea. Hope Andrew gets the credit he deserves and this team goes on to be even better.
    Just wonder how. G.McGrath now feels now that he knows his prediction of a 5 - 0 thrashing were a wee bit off. As for Shane Warne and the pitch comments, well that is just typical of him, only a bad sportsman would comment like that.
    Still it's nice to know it upset him, great bowler, but a nice person??
    I hope England remember that a good England side beat an average to good Australia side and don't rest on making every effort to improve their game and intensity of play. Well done to Ricky Ponting who conducted himself well in the public eye and came out with great credit and great cricketer and sportsman.
    Really enjoyed the series. I am not English and of course will be supporting my home team Ireland on Thursday, but nice to see England doing well.
    The TMS team are great, especiallly our Geoffrey, brilliant.

  • Comment number 10.

    May I rant about the former international cricketers putting an apostrophe in ODIs?

  • Comment number 11.

    Strauss and Andy Flower are doing a fine job for England. With them in charge, the team has made significant progress. Cricket commentators, fans and media all look rejuvenated. Welcome signs for Test Cricket.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 12.

    The dust has settled and the players and "back-room" staff received their plaudits. It has been another exciting series and England should be able to make impressive progress from this point.

    Just like to congratulate TMS for securing the services of "Hados", Matthew Haden, whose contribution to our summer listening was enormous. A thoughtful analyst, technical where he needed to be, avoiding unneccesary polemic, and never just filling in time gaps. I really enjoyed listening to him. What a contrast to Geoffrey Boycott who, when he wasn't being boorish, was being boring. He could take a leaf out of Hados' book: Haden was just as great an opening batsman but he doesn't need to constantly remind us of his mum's cricketing skills, what she or he, Boycott would have done with a stick of rhubarb or broom against certain bowling.. It was amusing the first time but we've heard it more times now than he scored first-class centuries.

    I hope Hados will not be lost to TMS because he was a breath of fresh air and noone has provided such insights into the batsman's mind for a very long time.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good luck for Friday Alison, commentating on the telly!

    I hope to catch some of the match as long as it is on Freeview.

    Really enjoyed the Ashes coverage and your blogs but we didn't hear much from you on TMS, just usually the morning interviews, you should have been used a bit more.

  • Comment number 14.


    Is the brunette next to the two Broads Stuart's fancy piece? If so, is she as fancy as I suspect she is?


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