As England's cricketers soaked up the applause of the nation on their open-top busride, it is a fair bet that coach Duncan Fletcher was already allowing his thoughts to drift towards future challenges.

Rightly credited with his role in guiding England from bottom of the Test rankings when he took over in 1999 to their present standing, Fletcher's success as a coach has been built on a determination to never stand still.

The celebrations at regaining the Ashes for the first time since 1986-87 will, if anything, make Fletcher even more determined to make England the best Test team in the world.

He has already asked team analyst Tim Boon to provide detailed video footage of every batsman and bowler England are expected to face during their tour to Pakistan, which starts next month and comprises three Tests and five one-day internationals, and will then turn his attention to the tour of India in February.

Fletcher, amid the Ashes party in the capital, celebrated his own success in gaining British citizenship.

Zimbabwe-born, he has fought for 15 years to claim a British passport as both his parents and all four of his grandparents were born in the UK.

He had twice fallen foul of rules which demand that those applying for citizenship must have lived in Britain for five years, with absences of no more than 450 days, including 90 days within the past year.

That has been impossible for 56-year-old Fletcher, whose job description demands he tours every winter with England.

But yesterday the delighted Fletcher won his battle with the British Government. "It's good news," he said. "I got it through on the phone this morning by text and that was the first I'd heard about it.

"I haven't really thought about what I'm going to do about living in Britain permanently at this stage. I'll look at it once I get back from South Africa and go to Pakistan - I'll give it some thought then."

It is thought that Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, became involved to ensure the controversy over Fletcher's citizenship did not sour England's success.

Victory during the two subcontinent tours would establish England as the No 1 side in Test cricket, having beaten nearly every major nation, home and away, over the last few years.

That is the major challenge for Fletcher and a young, vibrant team.

A dynamic attack is capable of bowling in all conditions with swing, both conventional and reverse, in Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard and outright pace and hostility in abundance from Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff.

Left-arm spinner Ashley Giles has had his critics but he has performed with bat and ball this summer and was a key player in England's success. There are few young England spinners who can provide the control of Giles or contribute useful runs as he did at The Oval by scoring a Test-best 59. At 32, the Warwickshire left-armer will not go on forever.

The wicketkeeper dilemma is also one to solve. Geraint Jones has many supporters, the coach included, but England have been fortunate that his errors have not been too costly this summer.

Fletcher and captain Michael Vaughan are keen to have a wicketkeeper-batsman who can counter-attack effectively as Jones has done at times this summer. But a wicketkeeper cannot regularly miss chances as he has done during the Ashes series.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for England is to safeguard the future of allrounder Flintoff. Something of an unknown to Australia before this summer, he has become a world superstar following incredible performances which won him the man-of-the-series award.

The concern for Fletcher is Flintoff's workload, bowling 25 overs in a day to try to seize victory at Old Trafford. England, in common with the rest of the world, would love to find another player who can bat and bowl with the same veracity as Flintoff and may have to consider how best to use him in future.

The acid test, as ever, will be how the team develops. No side has beaten Australia at home since West Indies in 1993. Fletcher has set that as an objective for his side.

If they achieve that they will become one of the great England sides of all time if not the greatest. For now, the country will content themselves with regaining the Ashes and saluting their heroes in Trafalgar Square.