Q & A: Cue for some arithmetic . . . and the origins of Argyle

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Why are 'Test' matches so called?

Like many developments in cricket the phrase 'Test' match came about more by accident than design. It first appeared in 1862 after H H Stephenson had led the first team of English cricketers to tour Australia. Cricket in Australia was in its infancy and the visitors were far stronger than their hosts, so to make their matches more of a contest the local teams batted and fielded 22 players. These games were referred to at the time as 'Test' matches, presumably because playing against odds provided a truer test of the Englishmen's abilities.

As Australian cricket improved so the odds offered to visiting English teams shortened until New South Wales challenged the 1876-77 tourists on equal terms and were well beaten. Later on that same tour, in March 1877, a combined XI from Victoria and New South Wales met James Lillywhite's English team in what has come to be recognised as the first official 'Test' match, although not billed as such at the time. However, by the mid-1880s the phrase 'Test' match had been commonly adopted to refer to games between representative XIs of England and Australia. - Neil Barnard, Leamington Spa.

Why do golfers only wear gloves on their left hand?

When Henry Cotton was the professional at Ashbridge Golf Club he slighly injured his left hand. I think it was a burn. Photographs in the press did the rest; the reason for the glove not being disclosed, it was assumed that it was adopted as an aid to play. Thus a small but profitable sideline came into being. - S K Young, London W4.

Are any animals raced other than horses, dogs and camels?

John Proctor (Q&A, 23 August) is right in that cheetahs were raced in London during the 1930s. However, I believe that the organiser of this event was not an Indian VIP, but an old Harrovian called Kenneth Gandar- Dower.

Gandar-Dower was a remarkable man. He represented Cambridge at six sports: real tennis, lawn tennis, Rugby Fives, Eton Fives, squash and billiards. In fact, he took part in the Freshman's cricket match and tennis tournament simultaneously, with teams of cyclists keeping him informed of the fall of wickets. After Cambridge he won the British squash and fives amateur championships and also represented Britain at lawn tennis.

Famous as a big-game hunter, he imported cheetahs from Kenya and raced them on greyhound tracks - against each other as well as dogs and dirt-track riders.

He was lost at sea during action against the Japanese in 1944. Benny Green has written of Gandar-Dower ' . . . his life's work has served as an exemplary example of enterprise and hedonism to all young men toying with the idea of going out and getting a job'. - David Jones, Teddington, Middlesex.

Has anyone ever scored a true maximum in snooker of 155? This is possible if a break starts with a free ball, a colour is taken as a red, a colour is potted, and then the table is cleared as usual.

The maximum theoretical break is actually 162 and can be achieved thus: Player B is 159 points ahead (either due to playing a handicap system or due to player A giving away penalties for fouls) and all balls are on the table; player B commits a four-point foul and leaves player A with a free-ball situation. Player A proceeds to make a 155 clearance (16 reds, one black and all the colours).

The two players are thus tied at 159- all. (A has a 155 break and four points from B's foul). There is a re-spotted black to decide the frame. A wins the toss and pots the black off the spot making a total frame score of 162 consecutive points without a miss or the opponent playing.

(Note: in the example above the 159- point lead of B initially is based on a four-point foul later played by B. Obviously a different value foul, eg six points, would leave B with a 161-point initial lead etc.)

There are recorded instances of a 16- red free-ball clearance occuring, though obviously there are no examples of the ludicrous but theoretically possible scenario above. The first recorded was by Alex Higgins in 1976, but he failed to take all blacks, scoring 146 in his total clearance. - David K Challender, Nottingham.

Do Plymouth Argyle have any historical connection with the Celtic parts of these islands? Why the name Argyle, and why play in green?

Plymouth Argyle Football Club was founded in 1885, by five former pupils of Launceston College (then called Dunheved College), Cornwall, who were living and working in Plymouth, and six Plymouthians. The first officers were all Cornishmen: H Grose was the first captain, and W Pethybridge the first vice-captain. The name Argyle was chosen because their Treasurer, C Phillips, lived in Argyle Terrace, Plymouth, and they chose the colours green and black because they thought these were the colours of the Argyle Clan in Scotland.

The newly formed club played its first match against Dunheved College at Launceston in September, 1885, and lost 2-0. (See H S Toy, A History of Education at Launceston, Penzance, 1966).

As a boy at Launceston College in the 1950s I remember Mr Toy (who was the Headmaster) announcing one day in the dining room that it was such and such an anniversary of Argyle's first match against the College. I think he hoped that Argyle would give us a return fixture, but they declined] - Canon Michael Fisher, St Ives, Cornwall.

The Argyle Athletic Club was founded in 1886 and was a general sports club for amateurs. A number of theories exist to why the name Argyle was chosen. One is that a number of those involved in setting up the club were members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders residing in the area. This is put into doubt by the different spelling of the Argyle. A second theory is that the setting-up of the club was performed at a meeting at the Argyle Hotel, Argyle Terrace, Plymouth. This hotel still exists and is a short walk from Plymouth Railway Station and about a mile from Home Park. - Neil Manley, London SE13.

I believe Wembley once staged a football match the day after a show jumping event had been held there and the pitch consequently left in an appalling condition. Which match was it? And how was it that horses were ever allowed on to the hallowed turf?

It was the League Cup final between Arsenal and Swindon Town played on 15 March 1969, Swindon winning on 3-1 after extra time. - Chris Flood, Ely.

Who was the last white man to play cricket for the West Indies?

Substituting 'light-skinned' for white (this is the distinction suggested in Michael Manley's History of West Indies Cricket) to include players of Spanish and German as well as British descent, there have been no such West Indian Test cricketers since C A Davis in 1973.

In the previous 20 years, however, they picked Charlie Davis, Geoff Greenidge, Joey Carew, Steve Camacho, Jackie Hendriks, Willie Rodriguez, Robin Bynoe, David Allan, Bryan Davis, Tony White, Gerry Alexander, Eric Atkinson, Denis Atkinson, John Goddard, Bruce Pairaudeau, Jeff Stollmeyer, Norman Marshall, Gerry Gomez and Maurice Frederick.

I don't think India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka have ever included a white player. Nor have Australia or South Africa included a non-white. But New Zealand have played Dipak Patel (of Kenyan origin) and Murphy Su'a (Polynesian). - Richard Vivian, Diss.

The last white West Indian Test cricketer was G A Greenidge (no relation) of Barbados, who played five Tests as an opening batsman (in 1971-72 and 1972-73), scoring 209 runs at 29.85. He also appeared for Sussex between 1968 and 1975. He went on a D H

Robins XI tour to South Africa in 1974- 75, as a result of which the Barbados XI, of which he was a member, was refused entry to Guyana in 1974-75. - Edward Liddle, Wolverhampton.


Why are 'heats', as in athletics and swimming, so called? - Alan Moore, London NW1.

The only unfulfilled fixture in Football League history was the Scunthorpe United-Exeter City match in the 1973- 74 season. Can anyone shed any light on the circumstances surrounding this unique non-event? - Russell Turner, Norwich.

Why do Mexican waves go anti-clockwise? - Richard Golbey, London N10.

As a schoolboy cricketer some 20 years ago, I was warned my cricket master to avoid also playing golf because of the damage he said it would do to my batting. No doubt there are golf instructors who warn their pupils off cricket. But are the two really so incompatible? - Peter Tetley, Braintree.

Why do we still have to have Fred Trueman commentating on cricket? - Ian Ladd, London SE1.

Which is the most common first name among professional footballers? - Martin Weaver, Portsmouth.

In old newsreels of football, the commentator often talked about Arsenal or whoever 'is' this or that, whereas nowadays we would always say Arsenal 'are'. Why and when the change? - Patrick Glover, London W1.

Which league football team has been relegated the most number of times? - John Greenhall, Cardiff.

Can polo be played left-handed? If so, why don't the horses gallop into each other when approaching the ball from opposite directions? - Duane McLennan, Chelmsford.

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