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September 13, 2005
The longest journey in the England team's life finally wound down where it had all begun two months ago, back at Lord's, as Michael Vaughan handed over their newly acquired trophies, including the replica urn that accompanied them on their bus-trip through town, to the MCC for safekeeping.
There to witness the ceremony - which was conducted by Roger Knight, the secretary and chief executive, and Tom Graveney, the president - was a group of schoolchildren who, due to an administrative error, had been denied their chance to play Kwik Cricket on the outfield during the recent Oval Test. Their reward was a chance to clamber over the benches in front of the pavilion, and obtain a close-quarters view of their hungover heroes.
The team stalked across the outfield from the pavilion end, looking for all the world like the Reservoir Dogs in their black suits and obligatory shades. For them, it was the end of the longest day of their lives, in which they had taken in trips to The Oval, 10 Downing Street, and of course, Trafalgar Square.
Andrew Flintoff, for one, was beginning to struggle badly, and was spared the latest round of media appointments, in which the bedraggled players had to come up with new ways of saying: "It hasn't sunk in yet". And for all the hype and hoopla, it hasn't.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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