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PM tribute as England retain Ashes

Jubilant England cricket fans are celebrating after Andrew Strauss' men retained the Ashes for the first time in more than 20 years.

Thousands of members of the loyal Barmy Army were sent into delirium after England secured an emphatic fourth Test victory in Melbourne - marching into an unassailable 2-1 series lead.

The win also sparked celebrations among supporters glued to television screens in the UK, while Prime Minister David Cameron described it as a "great late Christmas present for the country".

Tim Bresnan took the winning wicket less than two hours into day four of the Test match, dismissing Australian batsman Ben Hilfenhaus and giving the visitors a victory of an innings and 157 runs.

It prompted euphoria among thousands of England fans who made the 24-hour flight to Australia to be inside the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with many waving flags of St George and chanting victory songs.

Following the victory, England fan Steve Lewis, 35, who watched the Test from his home in Billericay, said: "I don't think anyone could say we didn't deserve it - in fact, we've completely outclassed them in every department in my opinion. I think this is a great day for English sport and the dawning of a new era in cricket really. It always used to be Australia who were head and shoulders above us, now the shoe's on the other foot. We need to kick on now and become the best team in the world.

Celebrations are now expected in England ahead of the fifth and final Test which will begin in Sydney late on Sunday UK time.

Following the triumph, which is the first time in 24 years that England have retained the Ashes in Australia, the Prime Minister applauded the team.

He said: "Congratulations to the England team and captain Andrew Strauss on a brilliant performance Down Under. Retaining The Ashes for the first time in almost a quarter of a century marks a very special end to the year for sports fans and a great late Christmas present for the country. I look forward to welcoming them to Downing Street when they return."

Australian fans were also quick to congratulate the English, with former Australian bowler Shane Warne writing on his Twitter page: "Congrats to the England cricket team on retaining the ashes .. It has taken 24 years for England to do it in Aust.. Well done and Congrats."