What was El Bengalazo?

‘Bengala’ is the Spanish word for ‘flare’ and ‘El Bengalazo’ was the name given to a disgraceful incident that occurred at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 3, 1989, during South American qualifying for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. In their fourth, and final, Group 3 match, the hosts, Brazil, led Chile 1-0 thanks to goal by striker Antônio de Oliveira Filho, a.k.a. Careca, early in the second half. However, with 23 minutes of normal time remaining, Chilean goalkeeper Roberto Rojas fell to the ground, bleeding from a head wound supposedly caused by a flare thrown from the crowd.

As Rojas was treated by the team doctor, Daniel Rodríguez, his incensed team-mates surrounded the referee and were subsequently led from the field by captain Fernando Astengo. On the instruction of Chilean coach Orlando Aravena, Rojas remained on the ground and was carried off on a stretcher. Despite the best efforts of Argentine referee Juan Carlos Loustau, the Chilean players refused to continue and the match was abandoned.

However, a review of television pictures and still photographs of the incident revealed that a flare was thrown on to the pitch, but missed Rojas by a yard or so and did not cause him injury of any kind. The South American Football Confederation launched an investigation and, under interrogation, Rojas confessed that his injury was self-inflicted, with a razor blade secreted in one of his goalkeeping gloves, in a vain attempt to have the match – which Chile needed to win – replayed at a neutral venue, or to have Brazil disqualified.

FIFA took a dim view of Rojas’ antics, banning him, Aravena and Rodriguez from professional football for life – although Rojas was granted an ‘amnesty’ in 2001 – and awarding the match to Brazil, by walkover, with an official scoreline of 2-0. For causing the abandonment of the match, Chile was banned from qualifying the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

Who was the first cricketer to bat at No. 12 in a Test match?

The Laws of Cricket, which are maintained by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), state that ‘A match is played between two sides, each of eleven players…’ Hence, historically, it was impossible for any cricketer to bat at No. 12 in any match, Test or otherwise. However, on August 1, 2019, the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced a ruling that gave teams playing first-class cricket, including Test cricket, the option of making a Concussion Replacement Request for any player ‘ diagnosed with concussion or suspected concussion’. The ruling further stipulated that any replacement should be a ‘like-for-like player whose inclusion will not excessively advantage his team for the remainder of the match’.

Thus, on September 2, 2019, in the second innings of the second Test of the India tour of West Indies at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, Jermaine Blackwood replaced Darren Bravo as a concussion substitute. The latter retired hurt on 23 on the fourth morning, having been hit on the head by a bouncer from India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah the previous evening; a subsequent medical examination confirmed that Bravo was, in fact, suffering from concussion.

Blackwood went on to score 38 before being caught at the wicket, again off Bumrah, but his arrival at the crease meant that fast bowler Shannon Gabriel – a bona fide tailender, with a Test average of just 4.32 with the bat – was demoted from his usual No.11 position and came in at No. 12. Gabriel may have made history, but there was to be no fairytale ending for him or his team. In fact, he was at the crease for just four minutes and faced just one delivery, without scoring, before West Indies’ captain Jason Holder was clean bowled by Ravindra Jadeja for 39, giving India victory by 257 runs.

What was World Series Cricket?

World Series Cricket (WSC) was an independent professional cricket tournament set up by Australian media mogul Kerry Packer to directly rival established international cricket. In 1976, Packer sought to exclusive broadcasting rights to Test and Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia for his commercial, free-to-air television network, Channel Nine. However, his bid of A$1.5 million was dismissed by the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) in favour of a bid of just A$210,000 by the existing contract holder, the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Incessed, Packer secretly recruited dozens of the leading players in the world, including Tony Greig,

Greg Chappell and Clive Lloyd, the captains of England, Australia and West Indies, respectively, to play a series of ‘Supertests’ and a one-day series, dubbed the ‘International Cup’, on Channel Nine. Players’ pay had been a major cause of dissatisfaction, especially in Australia, but Packer attracted the crème de la crème of world cricket by offering salaries in the region of A$30,000 for a three-year contracted. He later described cricket as ‘the easiest sport in the world to take over’, adding, ‘nobody bothered to pay the players what they were worth’.

Players signing up for the ‘Packer Circus’, as WSC was dubbed by the press, were initially banned from playing any match under the auspices of the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, following the 1978/79 Ashes series, in which England thrashed a vastly-depleted Australia team 5-1, public outcry for a settlement between the parties involved become irresistibly loud. The establishment effectively raised the white flag to WSC, the ACB granted Channel Nine the rights to televise cricket in Australia from 1979/80 onwards and the ‘rebel’ players returned to their respective countries.

Who was Rosie Ruiz?

The late Rosie Vivas (née Ruiz), who died of cancer, aged 66, on July 8, 2019, will always be best remembered as the ‘winner’ of the women’s division of Boston Marathon in 1980. On April 21, 1980, Ruiz supposedly completed the Boston course in a time of 2:31:56, breaking the course record by three minutes, and recording the third fastest by a woman in marathon history. She also improved by over 20 minutes on her previous best, supposedly achieved in the New York City Marathon the previous October.

Ruiz, 26, happily accepted a laurel wreath and medal for her ‘victory’, but suspicions soon arose that her record-breaking performance was not all it seemed. She lacked the toned, defined legs of a typical long-distance runner and, having supposedly run 26 miles, in a heavy T-shirt, in temperatures approaching 80°F, she appeared at the finish line apparently as fresh as a daisy, without a bead of sweat in sight. Commentators, including Kathrine Switzer – the first woman to run, officially in the Boston Marathon – who had followed the race throughout, were perplexed as to how Ruiz had managed to pass Canadian Jacqueline Gareau in the closing stages, and rightly so.

Subsequent analysis of race photographs and interviews revealed that Ruiz had not run the full marathon distance, but rather jumped into the race in the last mile or so. However, in so doing, she made a serious miscalculation; instead of emerging from the crowd, unnoticed, in the middle of a pack of runners, she did ahead of the other 448 woman in the field. Her friend, Steve Marek, said later, ‘Believe me, she was as shocked as anyone when she came in first.’

Ruiz was disqualified in favour of Gareau and, to add insult to injury, her time in the New York City Marathon – in which she finished eleventh behind record-breaking Norwegian Grete Waitz – was invalidated after it emerged that she rode the subway for 16 miles after turning an ankle. Ruiz never admitted any wrongdoing and never returned the medal she was presented in Boston.

Which was the longest world title fight in boxing history?

According to Guinness World Records, the longest world title fight, under Queensberry Rules, which were introduced in 1867, was a lightweight contest between American Joe ‘Old Master’ Gans, the defending champion, and Oscar Mattheus ‘Battling’ Nelson, a.k.a. ‘The Durable Dane’, at the Casino Amphitheatre in Goldfield, Nevada on September 3, 1906.

Under London Prize Ring Rules, which preceded Queensberry Rules, only a knockdown brought about the end of a round, but even after the introduction of scheduled, three-minute rounds, followed by a minute of rest, 45-round title fights were still the order of the day. In the original ‘Fight of the Century’, Gans, who had to waste particularly hard to make the 133lb lightweight limit, broke a bone in his hand 33 rounds into the epic bout, but fought on, feigning a leg injury to camouflage his actual disability.

Finally, after over two hours of fighting in the oppressive 100°F heat of the Mojave Desert, as darkness fell, in the forty-second round, Nelson sensed victory and, by his own admission, ‘went after him [Gans] hammer and tongs, determined to knock him out.’ He didn’t, but instead caught Gans, not for the first time, with an illegal low blow, which resulted in his disqualfication. Nelson later insisted that his final punch was a legitimate ‘hard left half-scissors hook to the liver’.

Gans contracted tuberculosis, which would eventually kill him, at the age of just 35, shortly afterwards. Nonetheless, he fought Nelson twice more for the World Lightweight Title, at the Mission Street Arena in Colma, California in July and September, 1908. In one-sided affairs, he was knocked out by Nelson on both occasions and fought just ocne more before his death on August 10, 1910.