I think it's fabulous how the Blair Government has opened up the honours lists to people who would never have been contemplated in stuffier times. Congratulations indeed to Sir Tom Jones (though I'd still like to know if David Furnish is now to be called Lord John, or even Lady John, following the recent betrothal). But I think they're going a bit overboard in rewarding national sporting victories.
A dangerous precedent was set when England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, and now we have the 2005 Ashes squad all getting gongs. There's an OBE for Michael Vaughan, and MBEs for the other eleven who played in the Tests against Australia (Bell, Collingwood, Flintoff, Giles, Harmison, Hoggard, G Jones, S Jones, Pietersen, Strauss, Trescothick). Also getting OBEs are coach Duncan Fletcher, chairman of selectors David Graveney, and team manager Phil Neale.
Let's just look into this a bit further:
Ian Bell has an MBE for scoring 171 runs in ten innings at an average of 17.10;
Paul Collingwood has an MBE for playing one Test, scoring 17 runs and bowling seven overs;
and Wheelie bin Giles has an MBE for scoring 155 runs at 19.37 and taking 10 wickets at 57.80!
And who missed out?
There were the players selected in the twelve or thirteen-man squads who were not required in any of the final elevens: Chris Tremlett and James Anderson.
There were the substitute fielders: James Hildreth, who caught Ricky Ponting in the First Test, and Gary Pratt, who infamously ran Ponting out in the Fourth, and the others whose names I do not have at hand but were most definitely part of England's Ashes campaign.
There was the remainder of the England management team: Troy Cooley among others...
And really, was Andrew Flintoff's contribution worth a mere MBE? And while Clare Connor has been elevated to an OBE for leading the women's team to victory in their Ashes, what of her team-mates?
And let's face it: is winning the Ashes really on the same level as winning a Rugby or Football World Cup? Let's be realistic here.
And then there's all the players in all those Ashes-winning sides of years past who never got a gong: let's rustle up some examples - Arnold Sidebottom (1985), Ken Shuttleworth (1970-71), Don Kenyon (1953), Tommy Mitchell (1932-33, the Bodyline series)... I could go on.