Winning the Ashes: how much celebration is too much?

Anybody in England or Australia who follows the news at all will be aware that the English cricket team has beaten Australia to retain the Ashes.

There has been blanket media coverage of the victory in recent days in print, broadcast and online media with the types of contrasting headlines you would expect:
England wrap up series win against Australia in style – Guardian
Fearless England have a ball as they pulverise Aussies – Daily Mail
Time for the axe, and chop from top down – Sydney Morning Herald
The pain of slow torture is almost over – Daily Telegraph Australia

Now that competition on the field is over, media analysis has quickly moved on to cover the celebrations.

When England beat Australia in 2005 for the first time in many years, the celebrations were legendary. Tens of thousands turned up to watch an open-top bus parade by the team in central London. However, the team then suffered a poor run of form, including a heavy defeat in the next series against Australia. Commentators claimed that the England team had become complacent, feeling they had achieved enough.

This time the tone is very different. Partly that is because the Cricket World Cup starts next month and partly because the Australian team is believed to have  declined: more challenges lie ahead. Apparently there is to be a reception with the Prime Minister but later in the year and it is clear that the kind of drunken antics seen in 2005 will not be welcomed.

The absence of high profile official revelry may open the way for sponsors to capitalise but careful judgement is required.

Planning celebrations is a difficult business. The Football Association faced an embarrassing situation in 2006 when plans for a victory parade in the event of England winning the World Cup leaked several weeks before the tournament started.  As football fans will recall, the Football Association’s advance planning was not enough to bring home the trophy.

On this occasion the England and Wales Cricket Board should be commended not only for their management and stewardship of the successful team, but also for judging the public mood. There is near consensus among media commentators that the right approach is for modest celebrations. By showing restraint in their moment of triumph, the governing body is demonstrating their long-term ambition.

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