Queen Elizabeth congratulates England

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II on Monday congratulated the England cricket team on their Ashes victory over Australia, praising both sides for the performances in the five-Test series, a spokesman said.

Queen Elizabeth, 83, is head of state of both Britain and Australia.

"The queen congratulates the England team on their victory in the Ashes, and extends her good wishes to both teams on their excellent performances over the course of the series," said the Buckingham Palace spokesman.

England regained the Ashes with a 2-1 win, repeating their 2005 series victory on home soil with a 197-run win in the final Test at The Oval in south London on Sunday.

Following England's 2005 victory, the queen made 11 of the 12 England players members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), with captain Michael Vaughan made an officer.

The queen makes such appointments on advice of her governments. Particular Australian scorn was reserved for Paul Collingwood's MBE, the batsman having scored only 17 runs during the series.

Some commentators have warned that there be no repeat of the mass honours, boozy celebrations and open-top bus rides: England were soon humbled, thrashed 5-0 in the following 2006-2007 series in Australia.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to write to the England team congratulating them on their victory.

Opposition leader David Cameron said: "Congratulations to (England captain) Andrew Strauss and all the England team on their Ashes triumph.

"It's been an incredible series and a fitting end to (England all-rounder) Andrew Flintoff's Test career.

"The team and backroom staff should know just how proud the entire country is of their inspirational performance."