The origin of the term ‘googly’ is uncertain, but it was first recorded in the early twentieth century, when it was used to describe a type of delivery, or ball bowled, invented by Middlesex and England cricketer of the day, Bernard Bosanquet. Bosanquet was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1905 and, by that stage of his career, was already well-known to the scribes at the independent cricketers’ almanac as an exponent of a deceptive, off-break delivery, which became known as a ‘googly’.
The stock delivery of a right arm leg break bowler, or right arm leg spinner, is the leg break. For a right-handed batsman, the leg break turns, or ‘breaks’, away from the leg-side to the off-side or, in other words, away from the batsman’s body. An important characteristic of the leg break is that spin is generated by the wrist, rather than the fingers. Thus, by bowling the ball out of the back of the hand, with the wrist at 180º to the ground, the right arm leg break bowler can spin the ball clockwise, rather than anticlockwise. The end result is a delivery that, while apparently bowled with a normal leg break action, breaks away from the off-side to the leg side or, in other words, a ‘googly’.
Deception and infrequency are the keys to the efficacy of the googly. Bowled correctly, the ‘wrong ‘un’ should be indistinguishable from a regular leg-break and, employed sparingly, can bamboozle an unsuspecting batsman by turning in the opposite direction to that expected.
Sea Pigeon is probably best remembered for winning the Champion Hurdle twice, under Jonjo O’Neill in 1980 and John Francom in 1981. Indeed, O’Neill described the son of Sea Bird as ‘the fastest horse I ever rode’, while Francome said, ‘he was easily the best I ever sat on’. Those sentiments were reflected, at least to some extent by Timeform; the best part of four decades after his retirement in 1982, Sea Pigeon remains one of just sixteen hurdlers to be awarded a rating of 175 or more since the early Sixties.
However, it should not be forgotten that Sea Pigeon was arguably the finest dual-purpose racehorse of all time. In the latter part of his career on the Flat, he recorded back-to-back victories in the Chester Cup in 1977 and 1978 and won the Ebor Handicap, under a record 10 stone, in 1979. All told, Sea Pigeon was 37 races – 21 over hurdles and 16 on the Flat – and early in his career, before being gelded, was considered a Classic prospect by his trainer at the time, Jeremy Tree. Sea Pigeon did, indeed, run in the Derby, starting at 50/1 and finishing seventh of the twenty-five runners under Tony Murray.
According to the National Hole-In-One Registry, the odds against any Tour player making a hole-in-one on any given par 3 are 3,000/1, which makes the odds against making two holes-in-one in the same round 9,006,000/1. Astronomical though those odds may seem, the feat has actually been achieved twice, by professional players, on the PGA Tour and once on the European Tour.
In fact, the first player in PGA Tour history to record two holes-in-one in the same round was West Hatford amateur Bill Whedon, who did so during the first round of the Insurance City Open at Wethersfield Country Club, Connecticut in 1955. However, the first bona fide ‘professional’ to achieve the odds-defying feat on the PGA Tour was Japan-born Yusaku Miyazata. During the second round of the Reno-Tahoe Open at Montrêux Golf and Country Club, Nevada, in 2006, Miyazato holed his tee shot on the seventh and twelfth holes. In 2015, American professional Brian Harman recorded his first-ever competitive hole-in-one on the third hole at Plainfield Country Club, New Jersey, during the final round of The Barclays and, lo and behold, his second-ever on the fourteenth.
On the European Tour, Australian professional Andrew Dodt started his second round of the 2013 Nordea Masters at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Upplands-Bro, Sweden on the back nine, but made an ace at his second hole of the day, the 175-yard eleventh, and another on his sixteenth, the 208-yard seventh. He has the distinction of being the only European Tour player two holes-in-one in the same round.
‘Eric The Eel’ was the nickname given by the media to Eric Moussambani Malonga, who represented Equatorial Guinea in the 100 metres freestyle swimming event at the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia in 2000. Amazingly, Moussambani only taught himself to swim, in a 20-metre hotel pool in the capital city of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, after his entry to the Olympics, via a wild-card scheme. When he arrived in Sydney, he had never seen a long course, 50-metre swimming pool.
In his heat, at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Moussambani faced just two, unheralded opponents in the form of Karim Bare, representing Niger, and Farkhod Oripov, representing
Tajikistan. However, both men false-started and were disqualified, leaving Moussambani to race alone, against the clock, in the hope of achieving the qualifying time of 1 minute, 10 seconds. Suffice to say, he did not, eventually coming home in a time of 1 minute, 52.72 seconds, which, although a personal best, was the slowest time in Olympic history. Moussambani later admitted, ‘I have never been so tired in my life.’ Nevertheless, he became the most heralded Olympian in Sydney, famous not for his success, but his valiant failure.