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Why Australians dread the number 87 in cricket?

While the rest of the world dreads the number 13, Australian cricket fears number 87.

By Jatin Sharma -

Cricket is a game of numbers and with numbers come superstitions as well. Like the superstition of number 13 being the most unlucky number in most parts of the world, number 111 caused the heavyset umpire David Shepherd (bless his soul) to hop like a bunny every time it flashed on the giant scoreboards during his career.

However for our friends down under, number 87 is the dreaded number in cricket. Unlike the number 13, which is said to be associated with the devil, number 87 is purely considered unlucky due to a very interesting reason which involves Keith Miller, Don Bradman and a whole lot of storytelling.

The story behind the number 87 becoming the boogeyman of Australian cricket dates back to the year 1929. 10 year old Keith Miller, who went on to become one of the greatest Australian all-rounders in Test cricket, saw his hero Sir Don Bradman getting out for 87 on the ball of Victorian Harry Alexander. Young Miller became fixated with the number 87, on which his hero got out.

Fast forward a few years, Miller was playing along with Ian Johnson, who would captain Australia in future. As Johnson got out for 87, Miller related the same story to the dressing room and the legend started to spread everywhere. It was made into folklore by Richie Benaud and Alan Davidson after the Second World War as they spread the notoriety of the number 87 all over the Australian continent.

However, after some time, when the legend was at its peak, Miller decided to recheck the score book of the 1929 match, where it all began and shockingly found that his hero, Sir Don Bradman was actually dismissed for 89 runs instead of the 87 runs as he had assumed.

Still the legend of number 87 has stuck with the Australian cricket and despite Australia winning the World Cup in 1987, the number is still seen in a negative light.

Jatin Sharma

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