What does a Nelson mean in cricket?

Horatio Nelson was a British Navy officer. He had exceptional leadership qualities that he put on display during the Napoleonic Wars. In one such battle, Nelson suffered multiple injuries that led to him losing his one arm, one eye and one other (unknown) part of his body. Nelson breathed his last in 1805. 

Nelson makes it to cricket

In 1874, New Zealand’s first-class cricket team was named Nelson. In the first and the last match of the team in 1891, their innings ended on the score of 111, that vaguely represented Horatio Nelson’s one eye, one arm and one other part.

The number 111 also resembles stumps without bails, which also indicates a batsman getting out. Cricket has thus believed that multiples of 111 (222,333,444…) are unlucky for the batsman. In order to counter this bad luck, it is said that one needs to lift their one feet off the ground. This was popularized by late umpire David Shepherd. The jolly umpire would hop and lift one leg off the ground when the score reached 111/1, 222/2, etc. Shepherd would explain Nelson as “one eye, one arm, and one lump of sugar in his tea.”

On 11th November, 2011, at 11:11, a test match between South Africa and Australia saw the innings score of 111/1. South Africa needed 111 runs to win. Umpire Ian Gould raised his leg for that minute. Recently, on 8th May 2019 in a Women’s T20 match, Trailbazers collapsed from a score of 111-2 to 111-7 against Velocity.

Nelson is a superstition. ‘Nelson strikes’ is what the commentators say when a team loses wickets on a Nelson score. Thus, Nelson is a phenomena of coincidence with a historic connection and theatrical numerology.

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