Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images
Sunil Gavaskar © Getty Images

There is a theory that batsmen, mostly out of nervousness, tend to get out in the nineties more often. Abhishek Mukherjee investigates whether that is really the case.

There is something about the nineties that make batsmen nervous. Batsmen like Sunil Gavaskar have always maintained that they had never looked at the scoreboard while batting; it was only crowd applause that made him aware. Even during his famous 29th hundred against West Indies at Kotla in 1983-84 he was under the impression that he was in his 70s or 80s when Dilip Vengsarkar, batting at the other end, had congratulated him (“Bloody hell, it’s your twenty-ninth”). Earlier that season Javed Miandad had fallen on 99 after playing out four consecutive dot balls.

But do the nineties really claim their victims? Let us find out.

Score range Batsmen dismissed Drop (from the previous group)
0 — 9 27,212
10 — 19 11,648 57.20%
20 — 29 7,237 37.87%
30 — 39 4,966 31.38%
40 — 49 3,594 27.63%
50 — 59 2,670 25.71%
60 — 69 2,040 23.60%
70 — 79 1,501 26.42%
80 — 89 1,025 31.71%
90 — 99 797 22.24%
100 — 109 724 9.16%
110 — 119 584 19.34%
120 — 129 383 34.42%


Of course, going by the above table, if we split the scores in groups of ten, the count of batsmen dismissed in each group is less than the previous group. Let us have a closer look now.

Contrary to popular belief, the drop from the “90 to 99” range to the “100 to 109” range has been a mere 9.16% — the only range in which a drop has been less than 10%. Compare this to the huge 31.71% drop from “70 to 79” to “80 to 89”. The graph may make it clearer:




Not very prominent, is it? The first two ranges are big enough to skew the chart beyond comprehension. Hence we must revert to the best possible alternative: use logarithms. The step from “90 to 99” to “100 to 109” is certainly the flattest.




As a final study, let us look at the numbers from 90 to 100. Is there a trend of any kind?




As is evident, batsmen get out more often immediately after they reach hundred than they do in 90s, especially in late 90s. One can safely conclude that the phrase “nervous nineties” is a commentator’s term more than anything else — and has nothing to do with numbers.

So, time to coin a new term? Nervous Noughties, maybe?

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here)