Q&A: Liverpool off the ball

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Q. Has any Liverpool-born cricketer ever played for England?

A. I have traced three England Test cricketers who were born in Liverpool. The first to play for England was A G Steel (1858-1914), who, in his prime, was rated second to W G Grace. He played 13 Tests, and led England to a clean sweep in the three-match series v Australia in 1886.

The others are M C Bird (1888-1933), who played 10 Tests two tours of South Africa between 1909 and 1914, and Ken Cranston (born 1917), who played eight times for England, captaining the side in the First Test v West Indies on the 1947-48 tour.

Liverpool constitutes 0.96 per cent of the population of England and Wales; three out of England's 576 Test cricketers represent 0.52 per cent. Yes, Liverpool is under-represented. - J Hugh Thomas, Llandovery

Q. Nottingham Forest extended their unbeaten run to 24 games last Saturday with a 1-1 draw at Queen's Park Rangers. They have not lost since last February. What is the longest spell a top-division team has lasted without losing, or, indeed, without a win?

A. The record of games in the top division without defeat is held by the club in question, who went a total of 42 matches unbeaten from 26 November 1977 to 25 November 1978. Forest also hold the record of unbeaten home matches in the League Cup. From September 1976 they went on a 47- match undefeated spell until Millwall won at the City ground in November last year.

As to consecutive defeats, Darwen, from the Second Division, hold the record. Following a 1-1 draw at home to Walsall on 5 November 1898, they proceeded to lose their next 18 games until another 1-1 draw at home to Barnsley on 21 March 1899 stopped the rot. Eighty-five goals had been conceded in this period, including two 10-0 thrashings, while just five shots ended up in their opponents' nets.

To add insult, they were also handed a 5-1 home defeat in the FA Cup third-round qualifier by the Lancashire League side Wigan County. At the end of the season, in which 45 players had tried to reverse their fortunes, they finished bottom with two victories, and decided, probably wisely, not to apply for re- election. - Brian Mellowship, London SE12


Q. Modern cricket seems to stagger from one ugly controversy to another. Was there ever a dispute similar to ball-tampering in, say, the last century? - Miss K Brown, London W10

Q. Who is the oldest living footballer to have won a World Cup winners' medal - Phil Burt, Stoke on Trent

Q. During the Sixties West Ham played Real Madrid at the Houston Astrodome. What is the story behind this unusual event? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

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

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