FOR millions of bleary-eyed cricket followers, the bitter cold of dark winter nights has, perhaps, never been as cheering. England's stunning Ashes victory over an ultimately well-beaten Australia is the first Down Under for almost a quarter of a century.
Their success can rarely have been as satisfying for supporters watching the action on television in front of a warm fire or tucked up in bed listening to Test Match Special through the small hours, even if Radio Four longwave listeners missed the Sydney denouement because the Shipping Forecast took precedence. Skipper Andrew Strauss now adds his name to an illustrious list of England captains, including Yorkshire's Leonard Hutton and Raymond Illingworth, who have won in Australia.
Cricket's adage that when Yorkshire are strong, England are strong was proven once again when Pontefract-born Tim Bresnan was instrumental in the team's two most recent victories. The next challenge for England is to become the world's best. But, for now, it is enough to celebrate a rare example of English sporting excellence.