Q&A : Profiting from likely tourists

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Q. As a tennis player used to definitive results and three- or five-set matches, I find the logic of six-match Test series and the likelihood of overall draws difficult to fathom. Can anyone explain?

A. The answer to a six Test-match series lies probably in one word, money. The first six Test-match series was held between Australia and England (1970-71).

The concept of twin tours in the English season (two tours of three Tests each) started in earnest in 1965, with New Zealand and South Africa being the tourists. An earlier version had taken place in 1912 with South Africa, Australia and England being involved in a triangular tournament. So, in time, a doubling-up has occurred, with the chosen visiting country being one who can command good money. Before this year's tour, West Indies' post- Second World War tours of England had been five Tests (apart from 1950 - four, 1969 - three and 1973 - three). This year a sixth has been added.

The game's financiers have no doubt called the tune. It would raise more money than a Test against Sri Lanka which has been held after previous West Indies' series in 1984, 1988 and 1991, or for that matter, Zimbabwe.

On to the theme of draws. In Ashes Test matches (Australia v England), there is no overall need for a winner, since the country which holds the Ashes only has to draw the series to retain the magical urn. Ironically in the 1970-71 series, an extra Test was held to make up for the washout in one of the earlier Tests, in spite of a threatened strike by the England team.

In other Test series, I can only suggest a drawn series is more likely in the subcontinent than in any other part of the world. - David Rimmer, Middlesbrough

Q. Can anybody tell me why in athletics races are run at 100, 200, 400, 800 and then 1500 metres. Why not 1600 metres? Not only is 1600 metres closer to its old imperial equivalent of one mile (1,609m approximately) but it could be run as four complete laps of a 400 metres track instead of three and three-quarters as in 1500 metres.

A. The principal reason for running 1500 metres instead of 1600 is that there is no point in having one race and then another which is nine metres longer, that is, the mile. However, for events such as the Olympic Games, which are completely metric, there is a need for a "metric mile" which is where the 1500 metres comes in.

Finally, to add to Tim Mickleburgh's answer (Q & A, 6 August) to the question why do men run the 110m hurdles but women the 100m hurdles, the 3,000m steeplechase is never run by women and the 5,000m is only being introduced in major games this year in Gothenburg. - John Harvey, Cardonagh, Co Donegal

Q. On a recent Match of the Seventies Leeds and Tottenham players were wearing black armbands in a 1970-71 league match at Elland Road. Who was this in memory of?

A. When Leeds entertained Spurs on 9 January 1971, I believe both teams wore black armbands in memory of the 66 people who lost their lives at the Rangers v Celtic match at Ibrox Park on 2 January, 1971, when fans who had left the ground rushed back after Rangers had equalised and collided with those attempting to leave the ground on a steep terracing. - Bruce McKenzie, Thatcham, Berkshire


Q. As the football season gets under way, what is the the heaviest defeat suffered by a club on the opening day of the league programme? - John Francis, Stevenage

Q. Why is today's FA Charity Shield between Blackburn and Everton at Wembley so titled. - Peter Billington, Carlisle

Q. From the Thirties to the late Seventies Madison Square Garden was regarded as the "Mecca" of boxing. What is it now since Las Vegas and Atlantic City appear to be the main boxing arenas? - Kevin Maguire, Batley

Q. Miguel Indurain won the Tour de France this year without winning a road race stage. Has anybody ever won the Tour without winning any stage, time trials included? - Richard Wilding, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire

Q. Whatever happened to Betty Stove, the Dutch tennis player who was the beaten women's finalist at Wimbledon in 1977. She was particularly unlucky as she went on to lose the doubles final as well. During the tournament she wore a large rubber bandage on one leg above the knee and I remember the commentator remarking that she was not a hero in her own country. When did she stop playing? - Roland Marchal, Runcorn

Q. Following on from a question in last week's Q & A about whether the waver of the chequered flag in motor sport has been hit by a racing car, I would like to ask if any official or competitor in athletics has been injured in the field by a javelin, hammer, shot or discus? - Peter Matthews, Burton on Trent

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