Q & A: England's triple-G force . . . and Genchev v Guentchev

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Ten years ago England seemed to have an alliterative trio of great and contrasting batsmen to rival Weekes, Worrell and Walcott, but a mixture of suspensions and selectorial folly has meant that they have hardly ever played together. How many times have Gooch, Gower and Gatting played together for England? And what were the results?

Gooch, Gower and Gatting have played together in Test matches for England on 27 occasions:

P W L D v Australia . . . . . . . . .13 6 3 4 v India . . . . . . . . . . . 7 - 1 6 v W Indies. . . . . . . . . . 4 - 3 1 v New Zealand . . . . . . . . 3 - 1 2 They have scored: Gooch. . . . . . . . . . . . .2115 at 44.1 Gower. . . . . . . . . . . . .2201 at 46.1 Gatting . . . . . . . . . . .1531 at 41.4 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Paul Silvey, Hounslow.

The Gs' comparatively small number of triumviral appearances disguises an impressive collective continuity. Between 1978 and 1990 England took the field with at least one of them in 123 consecutive Tests. This achievement would doubtless still be intact if injury had not prevented Gooch leading England at Barbados in 1990. - Andrew Dunford, London W9.

For those who like percentages, the three Gs have played together in 18 per cent of the 152 Tests since Gower made his debut (the last of the three) in 1978. Twenty-two per cent of these were won. This compares with 26 per cent of all Tests won since 1978. - Ian Greenwood, Enfield.

From a free-kick, say, 30 yards from goal, a footballer hits a thunderous shot into the top corner. At what point in the ball's journey is it travelling the fastest? As it leaves the player's boot? As it hits the net? Or at some point in between?

From the basic laws of physics, the only force propelling the ball towards the top of the goal is the acceleration provided by the player. This force ceases as soon as the ball leaves his foot, and the ball then decelerates due to the effects of air resistance and gravity. So the ball must have been travelling at its greatest speed just as it leaves his foot. - Chris Evans, Stone, Staffordshire.

If the ball were rigid, it would actually be travelling at its fastest the instant that it parted company with the boot; as a ball is slightly elastic, it will be deformed slightly by the kick and may accelerate slightly as it regains its shape. Thereafter it will slow down because of air resistance. - Robert Adams, Cardiff.

If Manchester United win the Premier League this year then Eric Cantona will have won championship honours in successive years with two different clubs. Has anyone else achieved this?

Alexei Mikhailichenko, the Soviet international, has won three successive league championships with three different clubs in three different countries: Dynamo Kiev (USSR) 1989-90, Sampdoria (Italy) 1990-91, and Rangers 1991- 92. - Robert Robinson, Dumbarton.

If Aston Villa win the championship, then Kevin Richardson will become the first player to win three championship medals all with different clubs (Everton in 1985, Arsenal 1989, Villa 1993) in four-year intervals. - Tony Borrett, Islington, London.

I heard once that when Spurs were in the Second Division they visited Bolton Wanderers, and the Spurs supporters were forced by the local police to watch the game from the terraces shoe- and bootless. A unique form of hooligan control. Is it true - and did it work?

I attended every match in Spurs' solitary season in the Second Division, 1977-78, and can confirm the basic truth of this bizarre incident. It took place, however, at Bristol Rovers, when they still played in the city of Bristol at Eastville Stadium.

We travelled by train, which arrived at Bristol to be met by what seemed to be most of the local constabulary, who amazingly then proceeded to check the footwear of every one of the several hundred Spurs fans on the train. Anyone found to be wearing boots with metal toe-caps had them confiscated and thrown into a large plastic skip.

Not surprisingly, those rendered shoeless complained vociferously, but to no avail. By the time everyone had left the station, dozens of lads were walking along in their socks. After the game they had to rummage in the skip to retrieve their boots.

I don't recall any trouble at the game, but this was due more to the score (Rovers 2 Spurs 3) and the fact that the huge travelling Spurs support outnumbered the home fans than to this extraordinary form of crowd control. - Colin Walters, Grays, Essex.

Other than chess, snooker and equestrianism, are there any other sports in which women compete on equal terms with men?

Ballroom dancing. - Chris Smewing, Team Captain, University of Nottingham Ballroom Dancing Society.

Although there are a few shooting competitions specifically for women, and Olympic events are still segregated, on all other occasions men and women compete on equal terms, from club level through to full national and international status. Mrs E A Woodley, Campbelltown.

Has any footballer ever been injured doing somersaults after scoring a goal?

In a match against Leeds United in April 1988, the Shrewsbury Town winger Victor Kasule (a rather eccentric Scotsman who once got booked against Crystal Palace for whistling a George Benson song when he should have been taking a corner), celebrated the only goal of the match, 10 minutes from time, with an extremely intricate dance which culminated in a spectacular somersault. The end result was a broken toe, a number of weeks on the sidelines and a warning from the then manager, Ian McNeil, that any similar celebrations would result in a stiff fine] - Peter Sankey, Rochester.

In the rugby union World Cup in 1987, the Zimbabwe player Richard Tsimba, in scoring a try against Romania, performed a somersault in going over the line between the posts. This flamboyant embellishment to a superb try caused him to sustain an injury which kept him out of the remainder of the tournament. - David Davies, Canterbury.

I have seen the name of Ipswich Town's Bulgarian player spelt Bontcho Guentchev (by, among others, the BBC) and Boncho Genchev. Which is it?

Boncho Genchev in England, Bontcho Guentchev in France, Bontscho Gentschew in Germany, Boncio Ghenciev in Italy, Bonczo Genczew in Poland.

Different spellings in different languages so that people guess more or less right. The only correct spelling is in the Cyrillic alphabet. - John Orford, London SE26.

This is the official spelling of 'Bontcho Guentchev'. This is how the Bulgarian FA have spelt his name, and we have followed suit on Bontcho's Ipswich Town/FA Premier League contract. - Mike Noye, Sales and Promotions Manager, Ipswich Town FC.

Rupert Metcalf of the Independent on Sunday sports desk writes: 'Bontcho Guentchev', Ipswich Town's spelling, is used by the media in Suffolk and the Press Association, the agency which supplies football details to newspapers nationwide. However, that is a French transliteration: the additional letters are to enable French speakers to pronounce his name as it should be. A Frenchman seeing the words 'Boncho Genchev' would pronounce them with a soft 'g' at the start of the surname, and the 'ch' in Boncho as 'sh'.

All the English-language European football reference books use 'Boncho Genchev', which has been confirmed as the correct transliteration by the Bulgarian Embassy. Therefore, we humbly claim that the Independent and Independent on Sunday are right, and other newspapers wrong.


Whenever play stops in a football match - for a foul, offside, goal etc - several players raise their hands, apparently appealing to the official. Has there ever been an occasion when this act has made any difference to the referee's decision? - David Colledge, Halifax.

We are all familiar with the 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 tactical formations in football. But has there been anything slightly more radical, like a tight 7-2-1 (or an Arsenal, for short) or a more suicidal 1-1-8 (Arsenal on a bad day) in the professional game? And what happens if a player hits a ball so hard that the crossbar collapses in two? - Russell Ould, Birmingham B32.

Why do professional snooker players wear evening dress? - Adrian Brodkin, London N2.

In the 1920s a New Zealand rugby team toured England and earned the name 'Invincibles'. How did this come about? And given the distances involved, were tours at that time common? What was the usual duration of a cricket or rugby tour? - Paul McMullen, London NW6.

When did the wearing of whites in cricket become the norm, and why? For first-class cricket is this mandatory or merely custom? - Patrick Glennie, Portsmouth.

Why have Spot the Ball competitions always used football? Has cricket ever been used? (If not, please note 1993 Bob Ingham.) - Bob Ingham, Knutsford.

What is the highest number of players from one First Division club to play in an England team? - Mike Batten, Reading.

Have British footballers ever played professionally for South American clubs? - P Gardner, Grimsby.

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

Q & A

Sports Desk

Independent on Sunday

40 City Road

London EC1Y 2DB

Fax: 071-956 1894

(Photograph omitted)