IN 1925 William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, remarked that he thought cricket was 'organised loafing'. This week, with the first Test in the Ashes series under way, the Candid Caller asked: how keenly do you follow cricket? And are Britain's best cricketing days behind us?

W G Grace of Bournemouth: 'I follow the cricket reasonably closely. I enjoy watching it but I prefer to play. I'm in a local team. I fear the best days are behind us.'

Johnny Hammond of Southport: 'I don't follow cricket, boxing is my sport. The best cricketing days are definitely behind us - and Freddie Trueman told me as much when I met him at a dinner recently.'

Geoffrey Dexter of Tyneside: 'If it comes on the box I can get interested, but I don't make a point of making a date with it. I enjoy one-day matches but find the Tests dull. Britain's best days are very much behind us. The whole thing's on the slide, the same as football and, for that matter, the country in general.'

Cyril Laker of Southampton: 'I like cricket, providing it's good. This season doesn't bode well for the England team on their showing recently. We've introduced four new players but I just wonder if they'll do anything.'

Alan Trueman of Rossendale: 'Am I interested in cricket? I'm a Trueman - Uncle Freddie's my cousin. If there's cricket on television I'll find it. I think we still have some good players and good days ahead, but I don't think we'll beat the Australians.'

Thomas Boycott of Liverpool: 'I do watch it when I can and I fear we have seen our best days. Looking at the one-day international, we didn't have a look- in with the Australians.'

Kevin Hobbs of Camberwell: 'I don't follow it and, from what I've read in the papers, I'm pretty sure the best of times in cricket have come and gone.'

Lynette Gower of Hereford: 'I love it and always have done. A perfect weekend is spent in front of the box watching it slowly unwind. You have to be optimistic, so I hope we've still got great things to come.'

Barbara Botham of Camber ley: 'My husband and I don't follow it, it's very boring. They used to wear whites and now they don't, and that's all I know about the sport.'

Tim Rice: 'Very. I read about it every day, watch it on TV and go to as many days of the Lord's Test Match as I can. I probably spend more time going to cricket dinners than watching cricket]

One can never really be sure how much difference in standard there is between one generation and another. The opposition that we now get from all corners of the globe is consistently better; New Zealand are just as likely to stuff us as Australia. Our standards might have declined a little bit; there are so many rival attractions (for British sports people) whereas, in places like Pakistan and the West Indies, playing cricket is still one of the best ways to make it big and get away from poverty.'