There were prolonged celebrations at the Oval last night as the England cricket team thrashed the Australians by 197 runs, in a victory which saw them take the 5-Test npower series 2-1. There was more to follow, however, when it was reported that some England pranksters had broken into the visitors dressing room, and stolen Ricky Ponting's bat.
Which they then set alight.
Ponting is the grumpy-faced Aussie captain, who always looks like he needs a shave. Standing a mere 4' 1" tall, Ponting has always been a thorn in England's side, but when he was out yesterday for 66, England captain Johan Strauss knew victory was not very far away.
As the losers drowned their sorrows in the Oval bar, a group stole into the Aussie dressing room and removed Ponting's trusty bat which he has had since he was a boy, and returned to their own changing room, whereupon it was doused it in petrol.
Next, the players went out onto the balcony and, in full view of 10,000 jubilant spectators, struck the match that will probably be henceforth known as The Greatest Match In Ashes History, and set the bat ablaze.
Ponting looked on, and said nothing.
The term The Ashes dates from a match in 1882 where Australia beat England on English soil for the first time - coincidentally at the Oval. The Sporting Times printed an obituary stating that English cricket had died, "and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia." The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882-83) as the quest to regain The Ashes.
Last night, as the fire had spread to the pavilion and some nearby houses, reporters were told:
"The old Ashes had got a bit powdery and crap. We thought we'd mark the occasion by making some new Ashes out of that tosser's bat!"