Guest article written by Paul Micelli
There is much talk in cricketing circles regarding the ‘Nervous Nineties’ and the theoretical concept that many batsmen lose their wickets as they approach an elusive century. However, a quick glance at most cricketing scorecards will indicate that the reality is somewhat different. In fact, more batsmen lose their wickets shortly after scoring 100 runs and there is one major influencing factor that comes into play here.
While a batsman is chasing his century, concentration and focus will be at peak levels. Once the century is achieved, the batsman has a tendency to relax in the knowledge that his biggest hurdle has been overcome. Concentration lapses for just a moment and inevitably, the wicket is lost.
The following data was gathered three years ago from international competitions involving leading test side and serves as a surprising testimony to the theory that most batsmen are more vulnerable after reaching the 100 milestone than they actually are in the ‘Nervous Nineties’:
|Number of Batsmen Out||Run Range|
|9||80 to 100|
|79||101 to 120|
|53||121 to 140|
|38||141 to 160|
|15||161 to 180|
|8||181 to 200|
|9||201 to 220|
|4||221 to 240|
|2||241 to 260|
|3||261 to 128|
|0||281 to 300|
The table itself shows the number of batsmen who lost their wickets within a 20 run margin and the figures clearly indicate the more players were back in the pavilion shortly after reaching the centuries by a ratio of around 8:1. The table does not include test matches against smaller cricketing nations like Bangladesh or Sri Lanka because there is a greater variation in high scoring innings.
Most test matches will have a spread priced up for each batsman indicating how many runs they will make during their innings. Batsmen in the top half of the order will usually have the spread laid out at around 35 more runs than they already have at any particular stage of a match. For example, if the batsman begins the day on 10 runs. The spread will be somewhere around 44-46. This effectively means that runs can be purchased at 46 and sold at 44. If you buy at £2 a run and the batsman scores 96, your profit will be £100 worked out at (96-46)*2. If the player has a bad innings and only scores 15 runs, your loss will be £62 worked out at (46-15)*2.
The secret of the system is to actually exploit the data listed in the table above. Statistically, 132 batsmen will be out before they reach a total of 140 runs. However, once a batman reaches his century, the spread will be approximately 134-136. By selling the batsman’s runs as soon as he reaches 100 runs, the odds of making significant profits will have been greatly increased. It is advisable to be sat at your PC as the batsman approaches his century so the runs can be sold at the optimum time.
It is also advisable to avoid batsmen who have a solid record of scoring double centuries unless they have gone at least five matches without passing 140 runs. Players such as Ponting and Tendulakar would have been best avoided during this example period.