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Geoffrey Dean Ashes and wine blog: England's Ashes victory enjoyed by players, fans and cricket writers alike

Published:  29 December, 2010

Sitting in the MCG press box a few hours after England sealed a famous victory to retain the Ashes, the place is still packed with journalists from both countries penning words.

The 20,000 or so England fans who were here - where did they all come from I wonder? - have all gone, and the groundstaff are all in clean-up mode.

The playing area is still bathed in bright sunlight, and after lunch in the Melbourne Cricket Club committee-room, where I was lucky enough to be asked, I write with that warm glow that accompanies a great national triumph.

Helped of course by a few glasses of very good wine that were served up - chardonnay and pinot noir from one of the Mornington Peninsula's best wineries, Kooyong. They were oldish vintages by Australian standards too - 2006 for the former and 2005 for the former (a nice touch, I thought, given the many happy memories England cricket followers have of the epic 2005 Ashes series).

If the lunch was a celebratory affair in which the Melbourne Cricket Club generously accepted that Australia had been completely outplayed, the mood in the press-box is studious, minds being at work.

Australian journalists are a competitive bunch, just like their sportsmen, and they do not take kindly to their cricketers being so badly beaten in what is the country's national sport. I wince at the some of the headlines that can be expected here.

At the same time, there has been surprising admiration expressed for the way England have outclassed the Australians. It is a new feeling for us cricket writers, for hardly any of us have covered a series Down Under where we have not been badly outclassed.

Now, as the old cliche goes, the boot is on the other last!

None of us have ever seen scenes here like the ones we witnessed at the end of this Test. About half an hour after the Test was over, and all the post-match TV interviews done, the England players came out of their dressing-room where Andrew Strauss had apparently thanked them for their efforts.

They walked across the outfield to the lower blocks in the Great Southern Stand, a mammoth structure that holds 48,000 people, where the Barmy Army and other England supporters were still housed. None had gone, happy to soak up the sunshine and revel in the euphoria of the teasured urn's safe return home.

After doing the footballer-like thing of clapping the fans with hands high above their heads, the players then stood in a line and did what they thought they would never dare do in Australia. They stood legs wide apart and arms aloft before clenching fists in triumphalist pose. Not just the Barmies but also all the England fans roared their approval.

It was almost primeval, a form of release from Australian cricketing oppresion after years under an imaginary yoke. I have no doubt that moment will live with those players for the rest of their careers.

The series is not yet won, however, and England must take a rare opportunity to clinch one on these shores.

Before the Sydney Test, your correspondent will be venturing into Victorian and New South Welsh vineyards to report on the devastating effects of downy mildew in both states as well as local reaction to Australia's defeat.

Hopefully, it should make some interesting reading.

* Geoffrey Dean, Times cricket reporter, is also writing exclusively for Harpers Wine & Spirit throughout the Ashes series on the cricket and his wine adventures through Australia.