Number`s up for cricket World Cup superstitions

Cricket is a game of numbers, of runs and wickets, averages and strike rates, all examined in mind-boggling detail.

AFP| Updated: Mar 17, 2015, 09:29 AM IST
Number`s up for cricket World Cup superstitions

Sydney: Cricket is a game of numbers, of runs and wickets, averages and strike rates, all examined in mind-boggling detail.

But for Pakistan`s Umar Akmal and Haris Sohail, the crucial figure is the one on their backs.

They are just two players whose superstitions have influenced their choice of shirt numbers at the tournament.

Akmal wears the number three jersey rather than his regular squad of number of 96.

The 24-year-old wicketkeeper/batsman, who has handed over the gloves at the World Cup to Sarfraz Ahmed after a poor stretch of form behind the stumps, said he acted on the advice of his `Pir` or spiritual adviser.

However, he didn`t get off to the best of starts with the bat at the World Cup, dismissed for nought against old rivals India before making a tournament best of 59 against the West Indies.

Oddly, Sarfraz, who is not known to have sweated too much over his shirt number -- 54 incidentally -- has thrived in his two games, scoring 49 against South Africa, and taking six catches, before hitting an undefeated 101 opening the innings in the crucial win over Ireland on Sunday.

Surprise call-up Haris Sohail changed his number to 89 instead of 80 and has enjoyed knocks of 70 against the UAE and 36 in the game against India.

He was also out for nought against West Indies and managed only three on Sunday in the Ireland game.

His change of shirt number did little for his composure after claiming he had seen a ghost in his Christchurch hotel on the eve of the competition`s two-match warm-up series against New Zealand.

Team manager Naveed Akram Cheema said Sohail was "visibly shaken" and spent the rest of the night in the coach`s room.

One of his Twitter followers wrote: "You`ve faced down Shaitaan (the devil), the Kiwis should be easy. Best wishes."

Another Pakistan stalwart, Mohammad Hafeez was reported by local media as having "run from pillar to post" to get the shirt number eight used by former Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Maybe Hafeez should have walked rather than run as an ankle injury forced his withdrawal from the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who led India to the 2011 World Cup, wears the number seven because he was born on the seventh of July -- the seventh month.

"It`s just that I always felt seven was very special for me. So it is not superstition. I just love the number seven," said Dhoni.

"It is a very neutral number according to astrologers. It doesn`t have a very positive side or a negative side. It is all about yourself. If you have a positive mind and if you are working hard then the results will be in your favour," said Dhoni.

He has also named his own brand of fragance "7 by MS Dhoni."

Australia introduced shirt numbers in international cricket in the 1995/96 season while the first World Cup to feature numbered jerseys was the 1999 edition in England.

The number 10 is a hugely symbolic shirt in football, worn by greats such as Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

In cricket, legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar wore the number ten as does Pakistan`s Shahid Afridi at this World Cup.

Numerologists associate 10 with energy.

"There is no reason why I wear number 10," said Afridi. "I just like this number."

Sri Lanka`s Kumar Sangakkara, who became the first batsman to score four consecutive hundreds in one-day cricket at this World Cup, wears the number 11 which numerology associates with wisdom.

South Africa captain AB de Villiers wears 17 -- he was born on February 17 and made his Test debut on December 17.

Indian numerologist Sanjay Jumaani said most cricketers are aware of what they consider to be their lucky numbers when they choose shirt numbers.

"All cricketers wear their respective lucky numbers on their jerseys, barring a few," said Jummani, on whose advice former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag once decided to sport a numberless shirt to overcome poor form.