'This time we've really done it'
Ashley Giles was criticised following a tough first Test against Australia at Lord's, but finished the series by making 59 in the stand with Kevin Pietersen which sealed the Ashes. Amid a mad day of celebrations and photoshoots around London he managed to give Cricinfo some brief thoughts on an amazing summer.
How does it feel to be a hero?
I am a hero ... [slight bemusement]. It's been a great day, you just can't beat this. I don't think any of us realise what we've done just yet, to be honest. At the moment, it almost feels as if we've got two days off between games again and we've got to get on and do it all again. But this is it, this time we've really done it.
And on a personal note, it couldn't really have finished much better.
I'm chuffed for myself, to be honest. At times it's been a really difficult series. I've not as many wickets as I'd have liked, but I've put in vital performances at good times, and yesterday was probably the best of them.
But I guess you'd rather not have been called upon to bat yet again ...
I had to look away when the wickets starting falling. I've never done that before, but I was just physically sick. Hoggy and I were out the back playing a game of cards because I couldn't watch. But then I had to put on my pads and I came good. I was a bit annoyed to get out before the end to be honest, I wanted to be there at the death, but I would have taken 59 rather than 5.
Is this as good as it gets as a professional cricketer?
I don't think you can repeat the lap of honour we did yesterday, and the bus ride this morning. As I say, we still don't realise what we've done just yet. I think it'll be better when we split up and leave each other alone for a bit, see what normality's like. If there is a normality now ...
What did you make of the crowds that greeted you this morning?
I've never seen anything like that in my life. It's been thrilling for us, and it's great that our families and kids could be there as well. We expected ten, 15, 20 people to turn up waving at us with their little flags, but that amount of people? Never.
What was going through your head?
Champagne mostly! But all sorts of stuff, just the realisation that we'd won the Ashes, and how long it had been since we last did it. It's been a bloody long time, but this team has done it. And if ever a team deserved it, this bunch of guys does. I consider every one of them good mates of mine, and I haven't stopped kissing and cuddling any of them for the last 24 hours. Long may it continue.
Do you recall the last time England won the Ashes?
I was 14 at the time. To win the Ashes is something you want to do since you're a kid, and it's something I've kept telling myself for the last five days. This is what I've always wanted.
Have you had time to reflect on the tightrope you've been walking all summer. Those two runs at Edgbaston, that one wicket at Old Trafford ...
The whole series has been like that. It's been a great series. There won't be a better Ashes series ever.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo