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Thursday, 2 December, 1999, 11:09 GMT
English Cricket: Waiting for the revolution
BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew answers your questions

As England suffer yet another defeat, BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew answered your questions about the Test series in South Africa.

"Aggers" had been optimistic about the tourists' chances. But expectations have been seriously dented as England suffered a first Test drubbing in Johannesburg.

Test Match Special's long-time commentator called for a revolution following the English team's humiliating summer series defeat by New Zealand.

Read Jonathan Agnew's answers to a selection of your questions.

John Brouwer, GB: Why do the A team so-often succeed and the full test team crumble? Should we just draft in the younger players en masse?

Jonathan Agnew: Good question! The likely answer is that the A team players haven't been exposed to county cricket for as long as the senior players and haven't yet developed the bad habits and attitudes.

Ian Derby, England: Jonathan, Nasser Hussain said the pitch for the first test made for exciting cricket but wasn't one for the purist. How can he question the pitch when South Africa managed to rattle up 403 so easily?

Jonathan Agnew: I agree. England's complaints do appear indefensible when you consider that SA batted for thirty overs on the first day and lost only one wicket. The arguments continue in the bar over here!

Ashok, UK: In the past few years, Ramprakash has been the only consistent batsman to stand guard when all around was crumbling. Why do you think he was not taken to SA? And do you think David Graveney may have to eat his words and call Ramprakash up? Also, don't you feel Vikram Solanki should also be sent to SA directly from NZ?

Jonathan Agnew: Ramps was extremely unlucky. He was not picked a) because having chosen Stewart and Hussain and with Thorpe having dropped out, the selectors had to be seen to make a change and b) because he was not considered to be positive enough batting at 6 with the lower order around him.

Steve, England: Would you agree that despite all the magical excuses we are about to hear concerning the loss of another series, that the England team are badly prepared, poorly motivated and, at the end of the day, just not good enough to play at this level?

Jonathan Agnew: Yes! Especially the last bit, unfortunately.

Graham Harris, UK: Jonathan, is there any merit in starting a provincial system along the lines of the South Africans, Australia and to a certain extent the West Indies, whereby you don't jump from the county straight to Test match level. It could for example work along the lines of North East, North West, Midlands, East Anglia, South East and South West, and even minor counties.

Jonathan Agnew: That's exactly what I have been arguing for. We need another level, between county and test cricket, chosen from the best players on the county circuit so you have the best players playing against each other.

Andrew Thomas, Isle of Man: Would tying financial rewards more directly to success (or failure) improve the performance of the England team?

Jonathan Agnew: It might well do...we've tried everything else!

Stephen Law, England: Is it the fault of our home pitches producing such poor quality batsman? And, shouldn't a double pair mean you're automatically dropped for the next match?

Jonathan Agnew: It's difficult to argue about the pitches when Vaughan, who plays his cricket at Headingley, comes out and plays more straight than anyone else. However, generally, the standard of our pitches have a lot to answer for.

Andrew Smith, England: Do you agree that the lack of quality young players available for selection is the result of journeyman pros playing on too long and denying a place in the teams to younger players and the lack of competition in county teams for player's places?

Jonathan Agnew: Yes, we must do away with the benefit system to get rid of the hangers-on.

Graham Page, England: It appears to me to be totally unfair that test matches can be decided on the toss of a coin. To stop one team being "luckier" than another how about bringing in a rule that, having lost the toss in the first test, England have the choice to field or bowl in the second and SA in the third etc. The last match, if it is an odd number will revert to another toss.

Jonathan Agnew: It's a good idea, but would take away some of the charm. England have now lost 9 away tosses...he must win the next one!

Krishan Canagasabey, England: As an Asian I experienced and still experience the unwillingness of English clubs to put forward players of non-white origin for county selection. This is for two reasons; one due to racist attitudes and also due to class structure, just like the company boardrooms of this country. This country needs to move forward.

Jonathan Agnew: It does, indeed, but why, in Leicester (where I come from) do Asian cricketers play almost exclusively in their own Asian leagues? They must join 'the system' if they want to be recognised by the counties.

Amit Gandhi, Canada: Who would you rate as the best batsman in the world today?

Jonathan Agnew: Steve Waugh

Ollie Cochran, England: Is the answer to all our problems to build more cricket academies similar to those that exist in Australia to develop raw talent?

Jonathan Agnew: Steady on! We haven't got one proper one yet!

Suresh Parekh, India: I think England should appoint an Indian coach only for the improvement of batting skills. Tell me which England batsman plays shots on the on-side the way Indian batsmen play? England should think on that.

Jonathan Agnew: Interesting...but why have India got an Aussie coach? (Bob Simpson!)

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See also:
28 Nov 99 |  England on Tour
England can rise from the ruins
24 Nov 99 |  England on Tour
High-spirited England up for series opener
23 Nov 99 |  England on Tour
English cricket and the art of hoping
20 Nov 99 |  Forum
England's cricket captain answers
23 Aug 99 |  England v New Zealand
Time to sack England's old guard
Links to other Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.