Roy Hodgson congratulates Ashes winners

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Roy Hodgson voiced his personal congratulations to England's Ashes winners, on a surprise visit to The Oval before the final Investec Test.

The England football coach, at the initial invitation of Australia team doctor Peter Brukner, first of all watched the tourists prepare in the nets on Monday.

He then stayed on for England's pre-practice kickabout on the outfield, and gave a brief impromptu 'team-talk' in a huddle in front of the pavilion.


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Hodgson was taking his opportunity, between day-job duties, to switch sporting environments with his assistant Ray Lewington.

His team are not in action again until next month, in a European Championship qualifier in San Marino, so he was able to meet up again with Brukner, alongside whom he worked in his time as Liverpool manager.

He was giving nothing away, after England had shown him their best on the football pitch, about who had the silkiest skills in a squad containing at least two who flirted with the winter game in their youth - Yorkshiremen Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow.

Hodgson did confirm, however, that he made sure to add his personal congratulations to Alastair Cook's men for regaining the Ashes this summer with a match to spare.

England have the opportunity at The Oval to win a fourth Test against Australia in a home series for the first time ever, before they head off for tough winter assignments against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and then to take on the world's best team South Africa.

Hodgson said: "I just congratulated them on regaining the Ashes and wished them luck on their tours this winter to the UAE and South Africa."

After watching England play football for half-an-hour, he gave a favourable report on that too.

"They were good. It comes as no surprise that people who are good at one sport are good at another.

"A couple of them could probably have had a career in professional football - but thankfully for us, they chose cricket."

Bairstow was amongst those out to impress.

"It's great to have Roy here watching on," he said.

"I used to be in the academy at Leeds United, so I'm sure he'll spot my talent and that will be a big factor in the way I play."

Hodgson was diplomatic, however, about who had most caught his eye.

He added: "I didn't really watch long enough to pick out individuals - and even if I did, it wouldn't be fair to name anyone in particular."

The 68-year-old does not profess to be a cricket expert, but has followed the sport intermittently for decades.

"I watched county cricket as a boy.

"But then I lived abroad for the bulk of my footballing and mature life, so in actual fact, I've rekindled my interest and love of the game since I came back to England about eight years ago.

"I quite enjoy watching all forms of the game, but I don't know that much about it."

He has watched England's success this summer from afar, but enthusiastically.

"I've been watching on TV, it was a fantastic performance," he said.

"The support for the cricket team is fully deserved, of course - they've had great success winning back the Ashes.

"We hope that's going to carry on [in the Rugby World Cup] for Stuart (Lancaster) and the team, and we hope, even more so from a personal point of view, it's going to carry over into France 2016.

"If the rugby team does well also, we'll have two very good role models."

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