The Ashes return September 13, 2005

Tens of thousands fete England side

Cricinfo staff

The celebrations in pictures

Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen acknowledge the crowds © Getty Images
England's victorious cricketers were feted as national heroes as tens of thousands of cheering Londoners turned out to cheer them as they paraded through the streets of the capital in an open-top red double-decker bus.

Dressed in dark suits and ties and accompanied by their wives and children, the players smiled and waved to the crowds a day after they regained the Ashes trophy from Australia for the first time in 16 years.

Dozens of police officers in fluorescent yellow jackets marched beside the slow-moving bus, followed by a similar bus with the English women's cricket team, as the parade moved past St Paul's Cathedral to Trafalgar Square.

The parade makes its slow way through the crowds © Getty Images
Crowds started gathering in Trafalgar Square, the final destination for the bus, from early in the morning and by mid-day, as the procession approached, it was packed to the rafters - the police said that around 25,000 people were in the square itself with tens of thousands more lining the route. As the bus came into view the masses broke into a rousing rendition of "Jerusalem".

"It's been a long night," said Michael Vaughan, clutching the replica Ashes urn "We've celebrated in true English fashion and this is incredible." The party certainly did go on into the early hours, and Andrew Flintoff, who finished his own celebrations at around 7am, looked far from raring to go as the side boarded the bus at 10.30am. "I'm struggling now," he admitted. "I've not been to bed yet and, behind these sunglasses, is a thousand stories."

But as it quickly became clear that huge numbers of the public had turned out to say thank you, any delicate heads on the top deck soon cleared.

The bus then headed to Downing Street for a reception hosted by Tony Blair, and after that the side travelled to Lord's where the urn was formally handed over to the MCC.