England win World Cup: 'Intimate Oval celebration perfect for its time'

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at The Oval

The two biggest moments in English cricket history happened 14 years apart in London and were broadcast live free-to-air on Channel 4.

That is where the comparisons end.

One England team played in whites, the other pale blue.

In the 2005 Ashes, the underdogs overcame perhaps the greatest team to have ever played Test cricket. Come the 2019 World Cup, England were the world's number one side and overwhelming favourites.

A glorious sunny Sunday at Lord's ended by Jos Buttler demolishing the stumps, as opposed to bad light at The Oval when the umpires delicately flicked off the bails.

And so, rightly, the celebrations that followed those two great victories have followed the same pattern of contrast.

The unforgettable parade through London, ending in players swaying on a stage in Trafalgar Square was right for the time.

Everyone connected with English cricket had been put through Ashes-shaped emotional turmoil not only in that summer, but in the previous 18 years of failing to win the urn.

When the wait is that long, and when eras of Ashes pain and terrestrial TV coverage were ending, a boozy knees-up with everyone invited was the perfect way to celebrate.

Andrew Flintoff's star was enhanced as much by his efforts in the bar as on the field. Matthew Hoggard insulted Prime Minister Tony Blair. Kevin Pietersen dated Caprice.

There will be no dating of models this time around, mostly because all the class of 2019 are family men.

There will be no parade, not yet anyway. At The Oval on Monday, the celebrations were more intimate and focused on the next generation.

That was entirely in keeping with the mood of the World Cup win. If 2005 was an end, 2019 may be a beginning.

The England players were actually guests at this party. Children were scheduled to play cricket here regardless.

When the magic at Lord's unfolded as it did, this presented the perfect opportunity for England to connect with the youngsters they hope to inspire.

Families bustled in from Oval tube station. If they were expecting to be kept waiting by an England team hampered by the excesses of its celebrations, they were wrong.

England were actually early, gathering in the home dressing room as fans and photographers strained to get a view.

When they emerged, down the stairs and each with a medal around their neck, they were announced individually to cheers that gradually increased in volume.

They walked through a tunnel of flag-wavers and high-fived the children that gathered around. When Eoin Morgan appeared last, holding the trophy, he was engulfed by youngsters wanting to touch the silverware.

As camera crews buzzed around, trying to grab a word, the players split off to address groups of children individually. If the idea was that they would play some cricket, it went out of the window in favour of adulation and autograph hunting.

Jofra Archer nursed a cup of coffee. James Vince's shades were never removed. Ben Stokes held on to a bottle of water as if his life depended on it and mumbled that he had "felt better".

These delicate dispositions were a nod to 2005, but it seems unlikely that anyone will do something nasty in a plant pot when the team visits Downing Street later on Monday.

As more and more gathered around, jostling for position, looking for a selfie or signature on a shirt, the decision was taken to clear the field and for the players to briefly go back to the dressing room. One member of ECB staff said it was for the safety of the excited children.

Naturally, that led to disappointment. One mother had to explain to her son that the World Cup had "gone back in", while another lad, autographs on his turqoise AllStars shirt complained that he "wanted to find Ben Stokes".

As The Oval regrouped, Jason Roy vaulted a rail between the dressing rooms and pavilion like a man with a perfectly working hamstring.

Photographs were taken, players with newspaper columns were taken to one side, fans were asked to return to the stands.

When the players re-emerged, they strolled the outfield on a mini lap of honour. Liam Plunkett clapped his hands and asked for noise, Stokes stopped other players from heading back to the dressing room to make sure that all parts of the crowd were acknowledged.

The Oval wasn't full - far from it - but there were still plenty there wanting to celebrate with their new heroes.

As journalists began to drift away, the players were left with a small group of fans underneath Archbishop Tenison's School.

The children leaned over the wall that separated the stand from outfield and the trophy was walked along, allowing everyone to get a feel for the biggest prize in one-day cricket.

And then it was all done. No open-top bus was needed. No traffic was stopped. There wasn't a drop of booze in sight.

It was lovely.

England players at The Oval
England's World Cup winners prepare to greet their fans
England captain Eoin Morgan shows off the World Cup trophy
Eoin Morgan became the first man to captain England to World Cup glory
England's Ben Stokes signs autographs
Ben Stokes, player of the match in the final, signs autographs
England captain Eoin Morgan is buried amid a sea of hands as he parades the World Cup trophy
Morgan is buried amid a sea of hands as he parades the World Cup trophy
England's World Cup squad pose with the trophy
England's World Cup squad reflect on a job well done

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