PM and fans hail Clarke’s Ashes heroes in Sydney

Shane Watson takes the plaudits of the fans as he walks to the ceremony. Picture: Getty
Shane Watson takes the plaudits of the fans as he walks to the ceremony. Picture: Getty
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Australia’s triumphant cricketers were feted by thousands of fans and the country’s Prime Minister at Sydney Opera House yesterday after winning back the Ashes with a 5-0 series sweep over England at the weekend.

“The Ashes are the world’s oldest continuous sporting contest,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a speech. “They are proof that the greatest of friendships can co-exist with the fiercest of competitions. And I just want to say to all of our players, thank you for making every one of us so proud and thank you for showing the grit and the character which you displayed.”

Clarke added: “Extremely proud I guess is probably the way I feel at the moment.

“The work the guys have put in over a long period of time, we finally got the rewards so its obviously extremely satisfying. It shows hard work does pay off.”

Yesterday’s ceremony took place just a couple of hundred yards away from where Australia launched their 2010-11 Ashes campaign with a rain-soaked ceremony that set the tone for a humiliating 3-1 defeat to England.

That was the second of three successive Ashes triumphs for the English, the third a 3-0 win last summer when Clarke saw the first signs that Australia might be starting to turn things around.

“I think our attitude certainly changed, our work ethic, you know I couldn’t fault the players in the UK,” he said.

“There was a little bit of bad luck at times but we knew, as a team, that we were heading in the right direction. So, our preparation, our hard work are the reasons we sit here, with success, today.”