AFP - England cricket captain Andrew Strauss (pictured) was hailed as a hero in the British press Monday after leading his team to victory, while questions were raised about Australian skipper Ricky Ponting's future.
England defeated Australia by 197 runs at The Oval on Sunday in the fifth and final Test with more than a day to spare, to regain the Ashes 2-1.
Under headlines reading "THRASHED 'EM" and "The Ashes are home," British newspapers celebrated the victory on their front pages, many with photographs of Strauss holding the coveted urn as his teammates sprayed champagne.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain said the close relationship between Strauss and coach Andy Flower had been crucial to England's performance throughout the Ashes series.
And he said Strauss, who took over from batsman Kevin Pietersen in January, had gone from strength to strength during the summer against Australia.
"As the series has gone on, I have been extremely impressed with Strauss's body language, his composure and his leadership and I thought he had a terrific game in this last Test," he said in Daily Mail.
While full of praise for Ponting, Hussain asked whether it was time for the Australian to relinquish the top job and concentrate on his batting.
"I believe it may be a good thing for him if he considers whether he should continue as captain," he said.
Former England player Mike Selvey echoed the Strauss-Flower partnership, saying they had pulled off "an incredible turnaround" after England were thrashed by Australia in the fourth Test at Headingley.
"It was to England's advantage and the credit of Strauss and Andy Flower, the director of cricket, that they had the time to reflect, rethink and then gather once more. The changes paid dividends," Selvey said in the Guardian.
The writer said Ponting's future must now surely be in doubt with Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke "waiting in the wings" to lead the former number one side.
"For his part, Ponting, a most generous opponent in defeat, will be remembered not just as a master batsman but as the second Australian captain after Billy Murdoch to lose the Ashes twice in this country and the first for more than a hundred years," Selvey noted, referring to Australia's 2005 loss.
AFP - Former England captain Mike Atherton also praised Strauss, but singled out all-rounder Andrew Flintoff who, playing in his last Test, ran out Ponting with a direct hit from mid-on, just as he looked in dangerous form.
"There were no runs and wickets for him (Flintoff) yesterday, but the gods had granted him, out of recognition for a remarkable career, the day’s defining image," Atherton said in The Times.
Although England deserved victory, former Australian bowler and ex-Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson also issued a warning to the celebrating players.
"Australia fought hard, they always do and always will, but England played to the conditions and deserved the victory," Lawson said in the Daily Telegraph.
"BUT.. Please put the result into perspective and keep the lid on the OBE/MBE box, you don’t want to be embarrassed in 18 months time by another whitewash."
The next Ashes series will be held in Australia where the hosts have traditionally dominated.