|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
The excitement and interest surrounding an Ashes series was no surprise. Every cricketer in the world recognises the special relationship between England and Australia. They may not have been first-hand, but I'd had my own experiences. In 2005, while still playing at Essex, I had been caught up in the exhilaration expressed by a nation watching one of the greatest series of all time. I saw what it meant. I took note. Just as I did Down Under in 2006-07 when working with the National Academy players in Perth for six weeks.
I knew all about the Ashes and their special vicissitudes. And I also knew we could win in 2009. Obviously I didn't know we would, but there were a couple of major reasons why I felt some quiet confidence beforehand. First was the make-up of the respective teams. We were likely to play five bowlers, Australia only four. I thought it would be interesting to see which theory would come out on top.
And that led into a second reason - the absence of the great Shane Warne from the Australian line-up. I now felt the spinning option was an area we could exploit, and actually thought we might have played two spinners on more than the single occasion we did in Cardiff.
As it was, the saving of that first Test in Wales was a key moment. A draw there was as good as a win. We felt that the momentum was with us as we went to Lord's still deadlocked at 0-0 in the series rather than 1-0 down.
And then at Lord's, skipper Andrew Strauss played the innings of the series with his 161. That set up victory and preceded the first of three Australian first-innings collapses in the series: three excellent efforts from our bowlers that handed us three opportunities for victory. We took two - failing only at Edgbaston - and that was enough to win the series. We dominated three Tests and so deserved to win the series in my opinion.
Were there worries after losing so badly at Leeds? Some, yes, but this England side are quite good at dealing with such situations - testimony to Strauss's remarkable strength as a leader. We went to The Oval for the final Test knowing there was as much pressure on the Australians - so fearful of another series loss in England - as on us. We avoided distractions, and just concentrated on our skills. And it paid off.
It was some feeling afterwards. Sadly, the hectic schedule left little time for proper celebration. But winning the Ashes as a coach is certainly up there with any achievement I've managed in the game. Not that I am sated in any way. There are still greater things out there to be achieved.