What is Nelson figure in Cricket? Origin and Why is it Considered Unlucky?

The Australian team ruled the cricket world once upon a time, but Team India has taken that spot now. The BCCI has become the richest cricket board globally and one of the main reasons behind it has been the growth of IPL. Although cricket has modernized, there are a few superstitions that every player has in his career. Speaking of superstitions, a slang called the Nelson Figure is quite popular in the sport. In this article, we will have a detailed look at that thing.

Nelson Figure Meaning

The Nelson Figure is nothing but the occurrence of 111 in a cricket match. The teams score runs while batting and the moment the scoreboard reads 111, it is considered the Nelson Figure.

The same can be told about an individual batsman’s score. Whenever a batsman scored eleven runs after touching the three-figures milestone, he touches the Nelson Figure mark.


Origin of the Figure

While there is no definite proof about the origin of the Nelson Figure, it is widely believed in foreign countries that Lord Nelson’s injuries are the reason behind it. Famous cricket historian Bill Frindall once referred to the occurrence of this score as Nelson because Horatio Nelson had lost his one eye, one arm, and one etcetera in the war.

Popular umpire David Shepherd spoke about it during his retirement and referred to it as One arm, one eye and one lump of sugar in his tea. There is a blind belief that the batsmen generally lose their wickets at a Nelson, double Nelson, or triple Nelson. Hence, it is called an unlucky figure.

Is Nelson Figure really unlucky?

A famous cricket magazine titled The Cricketer performed an analysis to determine whether the belief is correct or not. However, they found out that the theory was wrong because the batsmen lost their wickets for 0 more than 111.


Another surprising coincidence is that the Nelson team of New Zealand played domestic cricket from 1874 to 1891. They got out for 111 in their first ever innings and their last ever innings! This coincidence is one of the most bizarre ones in cricket history related to controversial Figure.

Speaking of Double Nelson, Triple Nelson, Chris Gayle once recorded a score of 333 in his Test career. The Caribbean star then wore that number on his jersey in the T20s. Still, nothing wrong happened with him as he went on to become a Universe Boss in the shortest format of the game wearing that number.

Umpire Ian Gould did Shepherd’s leg-raise, mentioned the Nelson thing in his retirement speech. In one of the matches where Gould was standing, the scoreboard of the match between Australia and South Africa read 11:11 on 11/11/11. Mysteriously, at the moment only, the Proteas required 111 runs to win the match.


There is also one stat backing that Nelson figure is unlucky in cricket. During the Women’s T20 Challenge match of 2019 played at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur, the Trailblazers were at 111-2. Suddenly, they lost five wickets for zero runs as Velocity reduced them to 111-7. However, the Trailblazers won that match eventually signifying that it might not be so unlucky.

Such collapses and even worse have happened in cricket history. Recently, in IPL 2020 Qualifier 1 match, the Mumbai Indians dismissed the top three of the Delhi Capitals batting lineup before they could score a single run. They were 0/3 and lost that match.

This recent occurrence is in the favor of the claim that a duck is more unlucky than 111. Perhaps, it could be because the number looks like stumps with no bails that the fans and cricketers feel it is an unlucky one.



Vinay Chhabria is a cricket and WWE enthusiast who supports Roman Reigns and Gujarat Titans. He has been following cricket for the last 15 years and WWE since 2016.

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