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Cricket enthusiast Queen tells of Ashes nerves

February 9, 2006
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Every sports fan will identify with the emotion - the moment when it all hangs in the balance and you're not sure if your team will pull it off. And the Queen, normally known for her cool composure, admitted that at times during last September's Ashes series the tension was so great she had to walk away from the TV.

The confession came yesterday as she honoured cricket hero Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and his team-mates at Buckingham Palace in recognition of their historic victory over Australia. "The Queen said she had to move away at times because it got too nerve-wracking," revealed skipper Michael Vaughan, who was awarded an OBE.

Watched by wife Rachael, who is pregnant with their second child, Andrew stepped up to receive an MBE from the hands of the monarch and chatted with her about horse racing. Afterwards the cricketer revealed he'd been rather overawed by the experience, which he described as "probably worse than going in to bat".

Famous for their enthusiastic celebrations such as the merry-making before a Downing Street reception last autumn, the sporting aces were on best behaviour for their royal appointment. "We're sober. We didn't drink - not when we're meeting the Queen," said bowler Matthew Hoggard.

No such inhibitions about putting a foot wrong affected the players' children, however, as they happily took advantage of the space in the Palace ballroom to indulge in a spot of ring-a-roses.

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Photo: ©
Andrew Flintoff and his pregnant wife Rachael chat to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, where the cricketing ace and his team-mates were decorated for their historic Ashes win over Australia last yearPhoto: © EMPICSy
Photo: ©
With acres of space in the ballroom for games, the players' offspring had a ball at the investiture ceremony. From right: Ashley Giles' five-year-old son Anders, and his sister Tilly, four, play ring-a-roses with Steve Harmison's daughters Emily, six, and three-year-old Abbie Photo: © EMPICS

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