Ashes 2010: The Special Significance of the Number 87

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87 Days Until The Ashes Begin…

87 is known as the “Devil’s Number” in Australian cricket as it is thirteen shy of a hundred, so it seems apt that with 87 days to go until the Ashes begins in Brisbane on 25th November, we look today at Australian batsmen who have fallen on this dreaded number in our Ashes 100-1 countdown.

Interestingly, research conducted in Australia suggests that the belief that 87 is an unlucky number where cricket is concerned is a bit of a fallacy, as batsmen have got out more often on the surrounding numbers. But try telling that to Clem Hill. Of the five Australian scores of 87 in Ashes encounters (see table below), Hill has two of them. When you factor in that Hill also fell five times in the nervous nineties in Ashes battles – including for 98 and 97 in the same match at Adelaide in 1902, then Hill could have justifiably considered himself an unlucky batsmen.

Scores of 87 in The Ashes by Australian players
Player Runs Opposition Ground Start Date
SP Jones 87 v England Manchester 5 Jul 1886
C Hill 87 v England Melbourne 28-Feb-02
C Hill 87 v England Sydney 13-Dec-07
J Ryder 87 v England Adelaide 01-Feb-29
KR Stackpole 87 v England Adelaide 29-Jan-71

The English equivalent of 87 is 111 or ‘Nelson’; although why anyone would consider getting out for 111 bad luck is another thing. Nelson is apparently thought to refer to Lord Nelson’s lost eye, arm and leg (although of course, Nelson never lost a leg) and was popularised by the late umpire David Shepherd, who used to raise a leg whenever the score was on Nelson, or double nelsonĀ (222), triple nelson (333) etc.

Only three England batsmen have fallen for 111 in Ashes encounters, suggesting that as far as batsmen are concerned this is not an unlucky number for England.

Scores of 111 in The Ashes by English players
Player Runs Opposition Ground Start Date
M Leyland 111* v Australia Melbourne 01-Jan-37
WJ Edrich 111 v Australia Leeds 22-Jul-48
TW Graveney 111 v Australia Sydney 25-Feb-55

Indeed it could be argued that 111 is more unlucky for Australia given that this was the total they made when chasing 130 in the infamous Headingley test of 1981. Not that this Englishman would like to remind all Australians of that particular match, of course!

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  1. Wendy Ann Green says

    As a newby to cricket and an ignoramus re: cricketing myth and jargon, thanks very much for supplying the answer to the 111 question!

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