Hit of a game in south

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Q. At school in the early Seventies, I remember playing a game called stoolball. Batters had to defend what looked like a square road sign, then run down the pitch in the direction of a bowler. Was this sport/game ever played at a senior level?

A. Stoolball, an excellent game incorporating elements of rounders and cricket and played with a specially designed flat-faced bat and a ball similar but larger than that used in rounders, is still played in leagues by adult women in Sussex and, to a lesser degree, parts of Kent. There is a picture of a match between these two counties in Arlott's Oxford Companion to Sports and Games (1975).

The game, based originally on using a stool fixed to a stake as a target, has a long history, being mentioned in Elizabeth I's reign when the Earl of Leicester, with attendants, "went to Wotton Hill where he plaid a game of Stoball". It is believed to be a variant of bandy ball, a game said to have been developed from one played by the Romans using a hard leather ball stuffed with feathers.

At one time it was played in many parts of the country but, with rounders being the preferred summer game for girls in school, it declined in popularity.

A description and the present rules, basically as developed in Sussex in the late-19th century, along with those for other excellent less well known hitting games such as longball, can be found in the book Striking And Fielding Games (J Severs). - John Severs, Durham City

Q. The 4.30 Flat race at Redcar on 22 June was won by Kamari at a starting price of 28-1 on. What is the longest odds-on price recorded for a winning horse?

A. The record is 10,000-1 on for Dragon Blond in the Premio Naviglio, Milan, on 1 June 1967. Lester Piggott was the jockey.

The United States horse Man O' War was quoted at 100-1 on three times in 1920, while two horses share the British record with the same odds of 100-1 on, Ormonde and Sceptre. Ormonde's odds were in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket on 14 October 1886 when there were three runners, while Sceptre matched this in the two-runner Limekiln Stakes on 27 October 1903. A year earlier she had won the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger. - Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby

ANSWERS PLEASE

Q. With the Olympic Games almost upon us, whatever became of John Walker, the New Zealand middle-distance runner who took part in a prodigious amount of races in the 1970s and 1980s? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. With qualifying competitions for the Open championship at Lytham & St Annes this week now taking place, what is the entry requirement for a golfer to play in such events? And can any club player take part? - Jonathan Willard, South Ockenden

Q. Does Dominic Cork still wear sunglasses and plaster his face with that white substance when playing in front of a crowd of 50 people for Derbyshire in a County Championship match on a dull weekday? - Noel Corrall, Castle Acre, Norfolk

If you know the answers to any of these questions or have a question of your own, write to: Q & A, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL.

Fax: 0171-293 2894

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