Q & A: Confounded expectations . . . and cricket's big bottoms

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In direct contrast to an upset, what is perceived as the greatest underachievement in terms of expectation? As a Derby County follower I would suggest that Nottingham Forest's display last season ranks very highly.

As a Nottingham Forest follower I would suggest that Derby County's display last season ranks very highly ( pounds 10m spent and still no promotion). - Mark Davies, Nottingham.

I would suggest Leeds United's away league record in 1992-93. As defending champions, they created history by becoming the only side to fail to win an away game in defence of their title, picking up just seven points from a possible 63.

After drawing at Southampton on 19 September, it was 24 February before they picked up another away point, in a goalless draw at Arsenal, a run of nine straight defeats. Their away record in all competitions was: Played 27; Won 1; Drawn 7; Lost 19; Goals for: 24; Against: 58. - Mike Wood, Prenton, Merseyside.

What is the highest number of wickets taken in one over?

Today you can celebrate the 21st anniversary of the most wickets to fall in a single first-class over. On 15 August 1972 Pat Pocock bowled the final over of a County Championship match for Surrey against Sussex at Eastbourne. Five wickets fell and two runs were scored. There were no wides or no-balls bowled; one victim was stumped, one run out, one bowled and the other two caught. Sussex started the over requiring five runs to win with six wickets in hand, and settled for the draw.

Mickey Stewart was Surrey captain. The only two participants still active are the umpires, David Constant and Alan Whitehead. How many first-class umpires from 1972 are still on the panel? - Richard James, Norwich.

In minor cricket there are a number of instances of six wickets in an over. I witnessed one in a match between Bedstone School in Shropshire and Lindisfarne College, North Wales, at Bedstone in 1975. A Lindisfarne fast bowler, whose name escapes me (I was on the staff at Bedstone) took six in six to return figures of nine for four in dismissing Bedstone for 4 in reply to 102.

In first-class cricket, a wicket fell to every ball of an over bowled by G Bennett for England v Surrey at The Oval in 1863, in the days of the four-ball over. - Edward Liddle, Wolverhampton.

What is the largest number of runs ever scored from one stroke - not including boundaries - in first-class cricket?

Eight off one ball without a boundary was scored by Rohan Kanhai for Warwickshire against Northamptonshire at Edgbaston in the mid-1970s. A wayward ball was given a gentle sweep towards fine leg. There was no fielder there so George Sharp, the wicketkeeper, went in ponderous pursuit. David Steele, at slip, went to the stumps, put on the keeper's gloves and fielded the return. The umpire awarded five penalty runs in addition to the three run. - Graham Fisk, Birmingham B32.

In 1947 a Womersley XI played Cridling Stubbs on a ground shared with horses and bullocks. The off-spinner was struck to infinite mid-on. After 13 runs a young fielder, having outfaced three bullocks, shouted 'Eh oop] T'ball's covered wi' cow muck.' After 37 runs he had cleaned the ball enough to throw it in. But the bowler had a split finger, a fashion set by Jim Laker, and, fearing lockjaw, let the ball run on for four overthrows to the 15-yard mid- wicket boundary. I was the bowler. - Brian Woodall, Prestwick.

I think the largest number was scored on 25 May (possibly 26 May) 1900 by S Hill-Wood batting for Derbyshire v MCC at Lord's, off a late cut to a ball bowled by C J Burnup. The number of runs scored is not exactly certain to me. Bill Frindall in his Book of Cricket Records (1986) says 10; but Sir Pelham Warner's Lord's (1951) says 11.

There were no boundaries (ie. overthrow boundaries) in this, as Lord's were experimenting with a complicated net system of scoring that year. A net was fixed all round the boundary, and the batsmen just seem to have continued running until the ball was retrieved and returned to the bowler or keeper. According to Warner, an overthrow contributed to Hill-Wood's feat.

Later, as Sir Samuel Hill-Wood, he became the chairman of Arsenal in 1927. - J R Gallimore, Stewkley, Beds.

Which Premier or Football League team can boast the highest number of locally born players ever to have represented the club in any one league match?

25 May 1967: 11 players from the west of Scotland, all born within 30 miles of Glasgow, dominated the cream of Italy. The venue: Estadio Nacional, Lisbon. The team: the Lisbon Lions - Ronnie Simpson, Jim craig, Tommy Gemmell, Bobby Murdoch, Billy McNeill, John Clark, Jimmy Johnstone, Willie Wallace, Steve Chalmers, Bertie Auld and Bobby Lennox. The score: Celtic 2 Internazionale 1 in the European Cup final. - Gerald Stuart, Glasgow.

On which ground has the outcome of the largest number of Ashes series been decided?

If your ambition is to see an Ashes series decided it could prove expensive. Your best bet would be to pack your bags and head for Australia. Sydney has witnessed a record 12 conclusive matches in this series since the famous obituary appeared in the Times.

At home, and cheaper, The Oval has seen the Ashes won, lost, regained or retained 10 times. As The Oval traditionally hosts the final Test of a domestic series this shows just how often the challenge has gone to the wire.

Of the six home grounds which currently host Test matches, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge are alone in not having enjoyed (or deplored) the outcome of the rubber. - David Balcombe, Northwood, Middlesex.

Why do cricketers seem to have such large bottoms? Could it be anything to do with muscle development when in a crouching position?

The main cause is over-eating. In what other sports do the participants stop twice during play to eat? A secondary cause is the fact that for virtually 50 per cent of the time the players are sedentary (ie. in the pavilion). - Adrian Brodkin, London N2.

Not all cricketers have large bottoms. Some of the men have very nice slim ones, Imran Khan and David Gower for example. Janette Brittin and Caroline Barrs, both of Surrey and England, are also slim, and Caroline has even had a baby] I like to think that I too retain a youthful slenderness in that area, despite crouching in the slips for many seasons. - Veronica Savage, Kent Nomad Women's Cricket Club.

What is the fate of old balls in Test cricket? Also, has any pitch-invader ever stolen the stump that contains the television camera?

The used balls in a Test match, even if only used for an over, are kept in boxes according to the length of use. These are then produced should a ball in use split or lose its shape, as happened in the recent Test at Headingley.

The stump camera is more at risk from an accurate delivery, as Ian Botham found in last year's World Cup when the South African McMillan snapped the middle stump, leaving several cricketers in green looking down at the camera with the Melbourne night sky above them. - Richard Turner, Isle of Wight.


Which charities benefit, and by how much, from the proceeds of the Charity Shield? - Stewart Walker, Little Chalfont, Bucks.

How much faster do swimmers swim by shaving off their body hair? - Michael Winship, Wakefield.

Oldham Metropolitan Borough currently boasts England's captain at both cricket and football. Is this unprecedented? Michael Atherton was born in Failsworth while David Platt began life two miles away in Chadderton. - Royce G Franklin, Oldham.

Most winners of international track events and world record holders are non-white athletes. In swimming, however, it is rare to see a non-white competitor in any international competition. Why is this? Has there ever been a black swimmer of note? - Gail Saunders, Middlesbrough.

Has any cricketer been on the field of play for an entire first-class match? - Kevin Maguire, Batley.

Can anyone explain why there are so many good-looking rugby union players, while first-class cricketers are almost always decidedly plain? - Margaret Bower, Bigbry, S Devon.

Which golfer has won a major using the smallest number of clubs? - Roger Dismal, Basingstoke, Hants.

What is the highest number of goals scored in one match on the opening day of the football season? - Philip Peters, Cranbrook, Kent.

Apart from the American footballer and baseball player, Bo Jackson, has any other sportsman or woman come back from a hip replacement? - Miss K Brown, London W10.

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or have a sporting question of your own you would like answered, write to:

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