Five hours after securing the coveted urn, the Aussies returned to the MCG turf to celebrate their Ashes triumph in front of empty stands.
Nearly three hours after Australia retained the Ashes, David Warner emerged from the MCG sheds with his young family for a game of “backyard” cricket.
Earlier that day, 40,945 cricket fans had witnessed a demolition job, but apart from a few security guards and venue staff, the stands were now completely empty.
Wielding plastic bats, the Warner girls took turns facing throwdowns from their father on the iconic turf, with wife Candice watching on.
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Soon the other Australian players and their partners trickled out from the changeroom. Some took a seat near the boundary rope with a beer, while a couple of others joined the Warner family’s game.
Music blared from a portable speaker, with a collection of pub anthems and pop hits on rotation – Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days, Toto’s Africa, Shannon Noll’s What About Me, Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles and A-Ha’s Take on Me among them.
Pat Cummins, who has won an Ashes series just two Tests into his reign as Australian captain, slowly waltzed around the boundary rope with his fiancee. A couple of lubricated gents in a corporate box, still enjoying the free canapes while they could, yelled out their admiration for the Aussie skipper. He gave them a polite smile in return.
Debutant Scott Boland, who wasn’t even in the Australian squad seven days prior, walked out towards the pitch with his young daughter. The Victorian quick had a few hours earlier taken 6/7 on his home ground, obliterating England’s middle-order to help roll the tourists for 68.
With the Johnny Mullagh Medal for Player of the Match still around his neck, Boland shared a moment with his daughter away from his teammates, reliving the 24 deliveries that had made him an Ashes hero. The infant nonchalantly fiddled with the stumps at the Members End, the same pegs her father had rattled the previous evening to remove nightwatchman Jack Leach for a second-ball duck.
West Australian seamer Jhye Richardson booted a Sherrin with some teammates while opener Marcus Harris chased Warner’s eldest daughter with a water bottle, threatening to drench her as she squealed with delight while running around the field.
Harris’ spot in the Test side had been in jeopardy ahead of the MCG Test, but a gritty 76 in the first innings was more than enough to cement his spot in the starting XI for the remainder of the series.
In that knock, he scored more runs than England’s side collectively managed in the second innings.
As the sun started to set behind the MCG’s western stand, the players and support staff formed a circle near the centre square and sang along to John Williamson’s True Blue, which was blasting from the speaker. Family members watched on from a respectable distance.
“Hey True Blue, can you bear the load
Will you tie it up with wire
Just to keep the show on the road
Hey True Blue
Hey True Blue, now be Fair Dinkum.”
Nathan Lyon then took centre stage – the off-spinner has led the team song since Michael Hussey handed over the illustrious duty in 2013. Australian coach Justin Langer had the job before him.
Lyon prowled around the circle and heralded individuals for their performances, after which they were drenched in beer. Each sentence was met with loud cries of approval and giddy excitement.
Eventually, more than five hours after Cameron Green knocked over England tailender James Anderson to secure the coveted urn, the Aussies belted their victory song.
“Under the Southern Cross I Stand
A sprig of wattle in my hand,
A native of my native land,
Australia you f***ing beauty.”
After 18 months of hotel quarantine and biosecurity bubbles, the cricketers must have cherished the opportunity to celebrate a win alongside family and loved ones.
“It’s what dreams are made of, the way we’ve played,” Cummins told reporters on Tuesday.
“Our bowlers have been fantastic in that I haven‘t really felt like there’s been one session where it’s got away from us.
“And I think outside of the results, there’s so many other positives as well.
“It doesn’t just feel like a three-nil victory, it really feels like we’re setting ourselves up for the next few years as well.
“We’ve got seven players in the top 10 of the world at the moment – four batters and three bowlers.
“And we probably haven’t strung the performances over the last couple of years that we probably expected of ourselves.
“So I think this really consolidates that we are a really good, strong Test cricket side and it’s a good sign for the next few years.”
Originally published as Australia celebrates thumping Ashes win in style on the MCG