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3rd Mar 2011 | Cricket

Superstitions and Betting Don't Mix

The writings on the wall for superstitious betting.

“Have you noticed the number of Nelsons lately?”

Not the sort of question you normally get asked. You’d be hard pushed to get away with it at Trevor Nelson’s house at Christmas time.

Where you certainly can’t, is in the middle of Canada v Pakistan, the score is 111, and Canada are on the verge of the second major cricket upset in as many days. It takes a special person to be interested in the banal when the big picture is so appealing.

As history goes Lord Nelson only had one eye, one arm and one leg just before he died, three ones or 111 therefore was a number that brought bad luck. The fact that he got shot must have also had something to do with it.

Never mind, the number 111 has somehow wormed its way into cricket superstition. Whenever the score reaches 111 (or a multiple of it) look out - wickets may tumble. Maybe if sportsmen and women are superstitious enough, believing it will make it happen.

I have therefore looked up the last 1110 fall of wickets. (I’m not scared of a Nelson x10). Taken from the last two months, a random selection of quality, format and teams make up the figures.

It made for some not so startling results:

Runs scored when a wicket fell

68, 120 – Occurred 11 times
0, 56, 63, 96 – Occurred 9 times
28, 44, 45, 106, 113, 133, 166 – Occurred 8 times

111 (Nelson) occurred 6 times and the unlucky Australian number 87 occurred three times. Over a hundred unique numbers had wickets fall on them 4 to 6 times. There is no discernable pattern for when wickets fall, other than falling earlier in the innings when the ball is hard, which makes sense.

If Nelson really was unlucky it must happen all the time. It doesn’t. Unfortunately it looks like 68 and ‘Shanghai’ 120 are the numbers to really avoid. Funny that, my friend has never been any good at darts.