Graeme Swann is the best slip catcher I know… but Ben Stokes took the best one in the 2015 Ashes
- Swann was brilliant at second slip and Stokes takes wonderful catches regularly
- Trent Bridge is home. I love the place, the people and the feeling it creates
- I’m not a huge TV watcher. I’m more likely to be chipping golf balls in the garden!
Another brilliant selection of questions have been emailed in, by you, over the past weeks. Sadly we can’t publish every single one but I have enjoyed reading them all and was very impressed again by the range of topics covered. Keep them coming!
Q What is your favourite Test match lunch?
Charlie, Widdington, Essex
A It seems too predictable to say Lord’s but it’s a very special experience to eat there — even climbing the pavilion stairs to get to the lunch room is awesome.
So it’s right up there but I have to mention Edgbaston too for all-round variety and quality.
Graeme Swann is the best natural catcher I’ve played with and was brilliant at second slip
The best dish worldwide? The plum chicken at the Adelaide Oval. You want that served on a batting day!
Q I heard you say on the Sky Sports cricket podcast how one thing that annoys you about bowlers is when they don’t set their own field. Regarding this, how do you learn all of the field settings and tactics, let alone put them into practice in the Test arena? I feel like if I became professional and turned up to bowl I would have no idea!
Rowan, Honiton, Somerset
A It seems funny to say but even as a kid in the garden I’d set my fields. I’d move a plant pot to third slip or a catching net to short extra cover. I’ve always been a thinker about the game.
Ben Stokes took the best catch off my bowling at Trent Bridge during the 2015 Ashes
The higher up you go in the game, the more you learn about what fields suit you as a bowler.
If I’m bowling bad balls, I get an attacking fielder in to try to sharpen me up, switch my mind on. A lot of the time the pitch dictates the field too.
Q What is your favourite domestic ground — and your favourite overseas?
Howard, Christchurch, Dorset
A Trent Bridge is home. I love the place, the people, the feeling it creates.
Cape Town has now sneaked up to my number one away from home. Memories built there this winter, with that fantastic Test match win, set against a backdrop of such incredible scenery make it extra special.
Q Can you recall all of your Test dismissals, or have some slipped from your memory?
A Good question — if you asked me how I claimed my 187th Test wicket, I couldn’t tell you. Ask me about the feelings of taking key wickets and that’s different. I’d be able to name them. One thing is for sure, every Test wicket takes hard work so I’m very grateful for every single one!
Trent Bridge, Nottingham is home. I love the place, the people and the feeling it creates
Q Catches win matches, they say. If you could take a slip fielder around with you, who would it be? And what is the best catch ever taken off your bowling?
Stuart, Paisley, Scotland
A Graeme Swann is the best natural catcher I’ve played with. He was brilliant at second slip. Not overly sure what made him so good, maybe just because he stayed so relaxed and never got tense when the nick came.
The best catch? Easy: Ben Stokes at Trent Bridge during the 2015 Ashes. He is a cricketer who takes wonderful catches regularly. Think back to a year ago yesterday and that one he took against South Africa in the World Cup.
Q Who’s the best county pro never to have played for England?
Arnold Poole, Lincoln
A I know theoretically he did get capped, as he won a single ODI cap against Ireland, but I just don’t know how Lancashire’s Glen Chapple did not feature more.
He had good pace, brilliant skills, a solid injury record, and was a useful batter.
There are many players who haven’t been capped and probably know deep down they would have struggled to make the step up, as it really is massive, but I wonder how Glen feels? I think he could have been a real success if given a proper opportunity.
Q I see you took part in the Virtual Formula One recently. Are you a big gamer? Who’s the best in the England dressing room?
A I do really enjoy gaming, particularly on tour. We have a lot of fun playing different games like F1, FIFA and more recently Call Of Duty.
Jofra plays the most, so I’m going to give him the crown. I’m being slightly generous but if I don’t I will definitely get a moody text asking why I didn’t.
Jofra Archer takes the crown for the most prolific gamer in the England dressing room
Q What’s the favourite piece of memorabilia that you have kept from your career so far?
A I like the medals I’ve kept — the World Twenty20 winner’s medal from 2010 and my Ashes-winning medals. They bring back nice memories.
I also collect No 8 shirts from different sports. I won’t be someone who has loads of memorabilia on display around the house when I finish playing.
I think I will keep it somewhere private where I can have a look if I feel the need.
Q Hello Stuart. Being an avid reader of The Mail On Sunday I was amazed to find your email address because as a former landlord and owner of the Black Horse Inn in Grimston near Melton Mowbray, I vividly remember you coming to our pub with your father Chris and mother Carol when you were young.
My late wife cooked lovely food, which we had a good reputation for, but in the main it was full of cricket memorabilia and to top it all we had a couple of visits from the great Sir Garfield Sobers.
I remember your dad, when on tour to Australia, calling in to see Harold Larwood and buying a blazer he’d worn. I hope you get the chance to read this. With kind regards,
A Thanks Bert, I read the email and I remember the Black Horse Inn. My mum still talks about going to see Harold Larwood and what a gentleman he was, so I forwarded your email to her. This is what she said in reply: ‘Yes, Bert, we brought the blazer back. Spending the day with Harold Larwood was one of the best off-field cricket experiences of my time.
‘We had to go back the next day because Gemma left ‘Lots of Legs’, her stuffed centipede! Harold Larwood was a sheer delight. I held the inscribed silver tray given to him by Douglas Jardine. It was on his mantelpiece, he adored it.
‘Michael Parkinson once wrote that Harold Larwood was someone he desperately wanted to interview but never did — so, Gem, we’ve got one up on Parky!’
Q What are you watching on Netflix during lockdown?
Daniel, Leicester (supports Leicestershire)
A A lot! I love the sporting documentaries, I started watching Mad Men, which is about advertising in the 60s. I’ve enjoyed it so far.
I love cooking shows and programmes on wine. I’m not a huge TV watcher though. You’ll more likely catch me trying to chip golf balls in the garden!
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