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Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 11:34 GMT
Famous Fan: David Troughton
David Troughton as Henry IV
One of Britain's best-known TV and stage actors, David Troughton is currently playing Bolingbroke in Richard II and the title role in Henry IV (Parts 1 and 2) for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His passion for The Bard is equalled, however, by his passion for cricket.

Q: What is your first cricketing memory?

A: Facing my father's slow off-breaks in the garden, aged five. Although he was never a cricket fan, he enjoyed the game and taught me the essences of batting and bowling.

Also, when I was about four, I remember my grandfather getting irate while watching a Test match on his old Cosser black and white TV, because a fielder had stopped the ball going to the boundary using his feet. Not cricket!

Gary Sobers
Sobers: Supreme talent
Q: Which player was your boyhood hero?

A: Gary Sobers. Was all that I ever wanted to be as a cricketer. Did everything and did it well.

Q: Did you play for a school or club team?

A: Having played only a little cricket at school, I came to my 'serious' playing days with a nomadic team called The Weekenders which was a side that formed when I lived in Hampstead and it is even now still going strong.

Made up of a group of actors including David and Clive Swift, Chris Douglas (who now writes as Dave Podmore in the Guardian) and various sons, friends and anyone else who wanted a game, The Weekenders went from strength to strength and played a good standard of cricket.

My best bowling was nine for 27 against a Hertfordshire village side, a feat that I still remember as I had to buy both teams large jugs of beer and got totally p****d.

Two years ago was the side's 25th anniversary and a friendly was held at Oxford University versus a Dons side captained by Clive Swift's son Adam (now a professor of Philosophy).

I wasn't going to play but just umpire, but someone didn't turn up so I went in No 11 and put on a Weekenders record stand for the last wicket of 54 with my fellow batsman, Mike Freeman, scoring 32 off 25 balls. Oh, the good old days!

Steve Waugh
Waugh: Great competitior
Q: Which current player do you most admire?

A: Steve Waugh, as he saves all his best performances for when his side is struggling. He is not particularly elegant as a batsman but if one had to have someone to bat to save ones life I would turn to Mr.Waugh.

Also his comment to Herschelle Gibbs, who dropped him in the World Cup semi-final, has to be one of the greatest pieces of witty sledging ever.

Q: Which is your favourite cricket venue?

A: Stratford-upon-Avon CC and the view from the scorebox. Having passed my scoring exams, I now score for Stratford in the Birmingham League Premier Division. At the moment we are lying second.

Q: Should technology be used to help umpires with lbw decisions?

A: Either we use no technology at all or we use all that is available. Many run outs that would have been doubtful and gone in favour of the batsman are now proving to be out by a whisker.

If there is the technology to plot with certainty the path of the ball after it has bounced then I think that we should use it. I feel that batsmen would benefit from the knowledge that there was no doubt that the ball would have hit the stumps. No more excuses of being 'triggered'.

Q: If you were in charge of the ECB, what would you do to improve the fortunes of the England team?

Nasser Hussain
More nets needed
A:I am in favour of contracted players, as long as these players are encouraged to express themselves freely, without nerves and without the fear of failure. I would encourage them to play to their strengths.

Also, I would institute a practice net to be available at all times during a match for anyone in the side to warm up in, especially batsmen. It seems crazy to me that at the beginning of the day there is a frantic warm up session, and then the batting side sit in the pavilion all day, until three hours later when the No 4 marches to the crease completely cold. No wonder he doesn't move his feet early on.

If he had been batting in a net 20 minutes before, I am sure he would be more prepared to face Walsh and co.

Q: Will a two-division Championship succeed in raising standards?

A: Two divisions with relegation and promotion is a good idea as long as the stakes are high i.e. bigger prize money via more sponsors. Standards can only be raised by improving pitches, cutting down the size of county squads and making each match more meaningful.

As an actor, I prefer playing on stage to a full house. Playing to an empty theatre is soul destroying. County cricket is losing its audience, so county players are not getting the buzz and excitement of playing in front of a full house until they go onto the international stage.

Suddenly they are in front of 15,000 people and many just freeze as they are not used to it. Nerves are a terrible thing when not used in the right way. Had they had the experience before at county level, the step up to International level would not be so great.

Q: Do you believe Hansie Cronje has told the full story?

A: I hope so but I doubt it.

Jeff Thomson
Thommo: Fearsome pace
Q: Which fast bowler past or present would you least like to face?

A: Jeff Thomson. Not only was he one of the fastest bowlers ever, but his sling action prevented the batsman from sighting the ball until it had left the hand. By then it was usually too late.

The usual luxury of watching the ball in the bowler's hand as he was running in was impossible.

Q: Which would you rather watch - Test or one-day international?

A: It would have to be Test match cricket, the essence of the game. The various swings in fortune over five days is always fascinating, especially watching England!

Having said that, five days of Test cricket is a rarity nowadays, partly due to the bowlers' ascendancy and poorer Test wickets, but also because scoring rates are quicker due to the influence of the one-day game. The recent Lord's Test was more like three one-day games than three days of a Test match.  

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10 Jul 00 |  Cricket
Famous Fan: John Kettley
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