Why is a rugby ball oval? How long was the longest volleyball rally? What is the fastest a tennis ball has been served?
Does the average sports nut know that French King Charles VIII died after banging his head playing real tennis in April 1498? Or that Australian aborigines played the original Australian Rules football with inflated possum skins? Or that King Henry VIII bowled with cannon balls? If not, that is a great reason to delve into this miscellany of ball sports and avail oneself of its plethora of spherical and ovoid facts, beautifully illustrated by cartoonist Tony Kitchell. All known ball sports on the planet are covered, including major sports such as European football, cricket, rugby, and tennis, through to the lesser known but equally fascinating korfball, tacraw, torball, Gaelic football, and stoolball. (hb)