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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK

Fans furious at England's decline

Who is to blame for England's slump? Administrators, players or media?

English cricket is at an all-time low, following a humiliating home Test series defeat by those supposed international minnows, New Zealand.

The BBC's Matt Davies reports on the national reaction to England's latest defeat
And the dismal capitulation at The Oval has raised the hackles of England supporters.

Tempers are running high among fans, who are keen to offer advice on how the team's fortunes can be turned around.

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In the hours after New Zealand's triumph, News Online received more than 250 emails on the subject of England's cricketing crisis.

And while the views differed, the majority of responses were far from complimentary of the England side.

Joanna Barnes, an English ex-pat suffering among "shark-infested and gloating Aussie waters", pointed to an absence of backbone among the players.

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"I can only despair at the lack of bull dog in England and its lack of fighting spirit and pride."

Others pointed at a defeatist attitude, which could only be eradicated with a major overhaul of English cricket.

"The losing habit seems to live at the heart of the batsmen," said David from England, "and no matter how many peripheral changes are made the cancer lives on."

There was sadness from Jon P-S: "As a player of cricket in a number of teams it broke my heart to see England's performance in this series."

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And fury from SH: "England is a third rate nation and this is third rate team."

Players and administrators bore the brunt of the abuse, but some supporters blamed the media for exagerrating the problem, while others accused school of failing to develop the sport among children.

But it was not just English supporters who made their feelings known.

Elsewhere, the plight of Nasser Hussain's team was greeted with was a mixture of sympathy and ridicule.

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The response of Pratap in India was representative of a section of opinion that believes England have simply had their day.

"Add English cricket to the long list of things that 'the sun has set on' for the British," he said. "The talent pool is anaemic. The power centres of cricket are now in the former colonies - Austral-Asia and Southern Africa."

But there were also words of support from among England's Test competitors.

Emerson from Barbados simply urged: "What England needs now is encouragement and support - not jeers and boos."

Click here to take part in the debate and add your own comments about the state of English cricket.

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