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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Q&A: Allan Donald

Allan Donald and his former strike bowling partner Shaun Pollock
Donald remains close to the South African team
Test Match Special summariser Allan Donald answered your e-mails on the Friday of the first Test between England and South Africa.

The former Proteas paceman, known as "White Lightning", made his debut in 1992 and played 72 times, taking 330 wickets - a South African record.

Now Donald is equally busy behind the microphone, providing expert comment on TMS in the first Test of the series at his old Edgbaston hunting ground where he was a key part of the most successful Warwickshire team in the county's history.

We put the best of your questions to Allan.

I have recently come back to cricket after a year due to back problems, but I seem to have lost a couple of yards of pace. I can't put my finger on why.
Amer Ditta, Middlesbrough

The biggest mistake you can make coming back from a back problem is coming back too early.

You need the absolute right rehab and the strengthening of your back is crucial. You need an expert fitness trainer or physio who knows exactly what they're doing.

I want to be a fast bowler but I'm rather tall and skinny. Would it help increase my pace if I were well built?
Rahim Azhar, The Netherlands

Your pace will not be helped by more bulk. It will help your strength, but it will not make you bowl quicker.

Fast bowlers need flexibility. Brett Lee has been told not to put on extra bulk so it doesn't hamper his flexibility.

If you have it naturally, keep it naturally.

I seem to be pushing the ball down the leg side most of the time. Any tips to help me keep a consistent line and length?
Robbie McMillan, Kirkcaldy, Scotland

It's a common problem and these things happen because bowlers do not spend enough time in the air.

You need to get yourself off the deck to get into a really good position.

What commonly happens is that your left side breaks away quickly. Because you stall too long in the air, you left arm doesn't work hard enough and you don't get through the crease quick enough.

If you watch the top bowlers they get off the deck and get through their action very quickly.

A good tip is to come off a three yard run up and jump in the air as high a syou can and pull hard with your left side. Practice it for 20 minutes and then come in off a loing run and see if it helps.

Do you think there has been a drop in the strength and depth of bowling in Test teams since the likes of you and Curtley Ambrose retired?
Chris, Manchester

The wheel turns and great guys drop out with new faces coming through.

There's the young Pakistani side, the England side is inexperienced and it's the same with the South Africans.

All these times you have the pleasure of Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, but we have to move on, it's the way of life.

He's an outstanding cricketer, a freakish player, who has shots that no other batsman really has
But I don't think it has deteriorated and I think it's exciting to see new faces around the world like Brett Lee and Shoaib Ahktar who bring the crowds in.

Do you see the Aussie stranglehold loosening in the next few years, and if so, which countries are best placed to be the new force?
Ricky Morris, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire

Australia have such an established team and I can't see them being removed in the next four years.

There aren't any teams at the moment to challenge them.

If I had to take a really wild guess, England, India or South Africa would be the team to replace them... eventually.

I've always wanted to ask you what you said to Rahul Dravid during that match against India in Durban.
Miraj Patel, Toronto, Canada

In the spirit of cricket was it the right thing to do and would I do it again?

The answer is that it wasn't in the spirit of cricket. I did it deliberately simply to upset him and try and make him give his wicket away. He did about two overs later.

Would I do it again? Probably.

I wouldn't normally do it, but it might just upset someone. At that stage India were going like a train and I had to do something to try and upset him.

I bowled him a bouncer two overs later and he hit it down fine leg's throat.

It was a bit of verbal but in today's game the match referee would have taken me to the cleaners, there's no doubt about that. I would have had a serious fine.

I'm not going to repeat what I said because some of it was a lot of Spanish.

After the game we shook hands, we get on well and what stays on the field stays on the field, you don't take it off the field.

He knew what I was trying to do. Obviously he didn't like it and a lot of the Indian team didn't like.

But that's the way of the game and sometimes you need to do something really special to get someone out.

Who were the best batsman and bowler you played with at Warwickshire
Orlando Arnold, Rugby

The best bowler I played with was Gladstone Small.

I played with Dennis Amiss in his last season in 1987, but the best batter would be Nick Knight.

They stand out as fine players and both represented England.

You played in a few South Africa-England games in your career. Which was your favourite?
Phil Lloyd-Bushell, England

Newlands in 1995/96. The series was all square and I took five-for in the second innings to win the game and a tight series.

But as well as that particular Test match, the whole series in 1998, which England won in the end, was very tough.

That series included a really special spell against Mike Atherton which was Test cricket at its best.

What was going through your mind during your "competitive" spell of bowling against Atherton?
Paul, Leeds

Mike Atherton and Allan Donald in 1998
Atherton and Donald exchange a "glance" at Trent Bridge in 1998
I was just trying to get him out. I was focused on trying to knock him over and at the same time trying to not let him off the hook and score quick runs.

That was absolutely special and I wish more of those sort of things would happen. One on ones with two guys giving it there all for their country.

That spell against Atherton was probably the best I've ever seen. Are there any particular bowling spells that stick in your mind as being the best?
Andrew Lawson, Northampton

That spell would have been one of the quickest spells I've bowled consistently for eight overs on the trot. It took so much energy out of me.

It was also one of the better controlled spells I've bowled without conceding too many runs and that was probaly the best spell I've bowled for a long time.

I don't think the board were fair on Lance Klusener. His talents would have come in handy when the team is lacking in bowling and he often gets crucial breakthroughs.
Senthil, Charlotte, USA

He's crucial to South Africa and Graeme Smith made some big statements about how he is a disruptive influence.

For people who don't know him, Lance is a quiet bloke, keeps to himself, carries on doing what he has to do and loves playing cricket.

Sometimes he has been controversial within the team, but I'd had him in my side anyday, one-days and Tests.

What makes it worse is that the UCB hasn't given him a contract which sends out the wrong signals to him. That's unfortunate.

Smith is a strong character and says what he feels, he's the captain so I suppose that's his right, but I really hope we haven't seen the last of Lance on the international stage.

He wants to play for South Africa and wants to play in another World Cup.

It'll be interesting to see how the feelings between him and Graeme Smith would be if he gets back into the side, but I wouldn't like to get involved when they meet up again!

Do you think Shaun Pollock is still as effective as he used to be?
Hilary Weale, Oxford

There's no doubt that Shaun Pollock has lost his sting and he knows it.

South Africa still know he can do a job, but what might worry the selectors a little bit is that they need him to strike and he's not doing that.

He'll bowl well and do a fantastic holding job but at the moment he's lacking that striking power and we have to look to Makhaya Ntini, Dewald Pretorius and Charl Willoughby to do the attacking.

Ntini's not bowling how he wants to bowl at the moment, so there's pressure on the inexperienced and young bowlers in Pretorius and Willoughby.

So Pollock knows he still has a massive job to do and the bulk of the work will fall on his shoulders.

Tell us about the alleged tension between Graeme Smith and Shaun Pollock.
Russel Matthews, London

There is absolutely no tension between them, absolutely nothing. I do not understand where people get this rubbish from.

It happens a lot when a side is not playing particularly well and there are rumours back home with ex-players saying he's far too young to captain the side and all that sort of rubbish.

But I've been with them for the last week or so and I know for a fact that there are no stresses or strains between those two. They get on very well.

Do you think South Africa have a chance of winning the Test series considering they were not able to do it with you in the team five years ago?
Mashkur Husain, USA

If ever South Africa wanted confidence, that they got yesterday, and if ever they wanted the best start in the world, that they got yesterday.

I believe they can win the series and they have already proved they are going to be strong contenders.

Yes, it's only the first day, but they have laid down the challenge.

Graeme Smith didn't hesitate to bat. It said to England we're ready for you, and I'm backing them to do well.

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