We all are superstitious in one way or another. Using a favourite vehicle or sleeping on a particular side of the bed, or a favourite t-shirt; we all are puppets of our minds. Success is majorly a by-product of hard work and persistence, but luck factor cannot be totally counted out.
Cricketers maybe celebrities and megastars in the eyes of their fans, but they are humans as well. They too cherish success and rue on failures. Almost every sportsperson at some point in their career uses any sort of superstition in the hope of better performance. They also followed some unique things and did it throughout their career to be successful.
Here we look at 10 cricketers and their superstitions:
Zaheer Khan (Kept a yellow handkerchief)
Zaheer Khan of India. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
There has always been a dearth of world-class fast bowlers in this batting rich country. After Kapil Dev, it was Zaheer Khan who was India’s torchbearer in the pace bowling department. With Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra, Zaheer formed a formidable trio in the 2000s.
Zak was the leading wicket-taker in India’s historic Test series triumph in England, 2007. Zaheer was also the joint-highest wicket-taker in the 2011 World Cup alongside Shahid Afridi. However, the left-arm pacer believed in superstitions.
Zaheer used to keep a yellow handkerchief in his pocket every-time he came onto bowl. Zaheer has a struggling and an inspiring journey, from working in a textile mill to taking 600 international wickets and becoming a world champion. He won’t mind crediting a yellow piece of cloth for his glorious achievements.
Sourav Ganguly (Kept photo of his guruji in pocket)
Sourav Ganguly. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Saurav Ganguly took over the captaincy at the turn of the century after the chaotic match-fixing scandal. The Prince of Kolkata is India’s third most successful Test captain with 21 wins under his belt, behind MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. It is believed that Dhoni reaped the rewards of Ganguly’s effort in developing Indian cricket.
Ganguly played international cricket for over 15 years and amassed over 18000 runs. In the tumultuous times when everybody looked upon Dada, he searched strength in his superstition. The southpaw kept a photo of his guruji in his pocket, every time he was on the field.
The Bengal tiger believed heavily in different superstitions. He used to wear rings, maalas, even changed his T-shirt number. Doesn’t matter how many different notions Dada had, all the graceful cover drives will always be under his skillset.
Virender Sehwag (No jersey number)
Virender Sehwag. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Without a doubt, Virender Sehwag was India’s most fearless and entertaining opener. Sehwag induced a sense of thrill among fans and fright among bowlers. The Nawab of Najafgarh is the only Indian to score two triple centuries in test cricket.
Sehwag is known for his clear-minded approach and witty tweets. Like his opening partner, he too used a very famous superstition. Sehwag didn’t have a jersey number!! In the early part of his career, the right-hander used jersey number 44. But then after observing some patterns in his scores, Sehwag decided to remove it and since then there was a blank space behind his jersey.
The opener from Delhi scored over 8000 runs in ODIs and Tests with an attacking strike-rate. In 2011, Sehwag broke Tendulkar’s record of the highest score in ODIs by smashing the West Indies bowlers all around the ground in Indore. Since his retirement in 2015, he has become a social media celebrity.
Anil Kumble (Handed cap and sweater to Sachin)
Anil Kumble (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
India’s highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, Anil Kumble gave his all when he was on the field. Kumble toiled day in and day out and was an imperative part of India’s triumph in Australia and England. Kumble created history in 1999 by picking 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in Delhi.
It was a historic day as Jumbo became only the second player to do so, after Jim Laker, and nobody has repeated that feat till date. But something interesting transpired during Kumble’s iconic spell. Every time he came onto bowl he handed his cap and sweater to Sachin Tendulkar, instead of the umpire. It was a pattern which both of them followed until Kumble got the last wicket.
The Karnataka born leggie retired with 619 Test wickets and 337 ODI wickets. He captained India to a momentous win at Perth in 2008. Kumble also coached the Indian team from 2016 and resigned controversially after the Champions Trophy in 2017.
Sehwag and Sachin in the 2011 World Cup final (Didn’t watch the chase)
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag. (Photo source: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
For winning a tournament like a World Cup, along with playing excellent cricket for about two months, a team needs that extra inch of luck. India ended their World Cup quest of 28 years in 2011 when MS Dhoni stroked a Kulasekara delivery over long-on. It also fulfilled Tendulkar’s dream of lifting the coveted trophy once in his glorious career.
In the final against Sri Lanka, Lasith Malinga picked up the wickets of both Indian openers. Although the middle order rescued the team and eventually won the match, Sachin and Sehwag didn’t watch the entire innings! Tendulkar urged Sehwag to sit beside him until the match was over.
Speaking at the launch of his autobiography in Mumbai he said, “I was a little superstitious because when we were playing Australia in Ahmedabad, I was not watching – I’d put my head down on the massage table and was being attended by the team physiotherapist. Viru had been sitting next to me. So I continued that in the World Cup final.”
Tendulkar was the second-highest scorer of the tournament. He accumulated 482 runs at 53 with two centuries. Sehwag famously scored boundary on the first ball of the innings on most occasions.
Steve Waugh (Kept red handkerchief in pocket)
Steve Waugh. (Photo by Getty Images)
In the history of international cricket, Australia has produced some world-class captains; Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke have World Cup trophies in their cabinet. With 41 Test victories, Waugh is Australia’s second most successful captain in the format behind Ricky Ponting. Not only a great captain, but he was also Australia’s spine in the middle order.
In a career stretching for 19 years, Waugh made 10927 test runs at an astonishing average of 50. As great as a captain Waugh was, he also believed in superstitions. The right-hander always kept a red handkerchief in his pocket which was given to him by his grandmother. He believed it brought luck to him.
The New South Wales batsman retired in 2004 against India. He played a match-saving knock of 80 to deny India a victory in the Sydney test. ‘Tugga’ will be remembered for his marvellous performance in the 1999 World Cup. He scored 398 runs at an average of 80 to guide Australia to their second World title.
Ravichandran Ashwin (Carried lucky bag during the 2011 WC)
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
We saw about Sachin and Sehwag’s superstition of sitting together; it was only for the final and quarterfinal. Ravichandran Ashwin used his superstition for the entire tournament. He had a lucky bag which he carried it to every game. Ashwin kept the bag as a companion regardless of the fact that he was playing or not.
The off-spinner had a sudden rise in international cricket. His impressive show in the IPL earned him a national call. In the absence of Harbhajan Singh, Ashwin made most of the opportunities given to him.
He made it twice into the playing eleven of the 2011 World Cup. In the high voltage clash against Australia in the quarter-finals, he took important wickets of Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting. The Tamil Nadu offie was India’s trump card in all-formats during Dhoni’s tenure as a captain. He is now a Test specialist and is close to bagging 350 wickets in the format.
Sachin Tendulkar (Wore left pad first always)
Sachin Tendulkar. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Tendulkar made his Test debut at the age of 16 against a ferocious Pakistani bowling attack. ‘The master blaster scored his first Test century in 1992 versus England and never looked back. A career extending for almost a quarter of a century, Sachin Tendulkar scored over 34000 international runs and carried expectations of a billion people.
The ‘God of cricket’ even with all the achievements and skills believed in superstitions. Tendulkar would wear the left pad first and then the pad on the right leg. His success has much to do with his ability with the bat and less with his belief in the order of wearing the pads.
Not only Sachin, but his wife, Anjali had a superstition as well. She used to sit on the same spot in the room as long as Sachin batted. When the champion batsman was in the middle, the entire country held its breath and enjoyed every bit of his brilliance.
Rahul Dravid (Wore right thigh pad first)
Rahul Dravid of India in action during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Rahul Dravid epitomizes patience. In a literal sense, he is a true gentleman, on and off the field. Over 13000 Test runs and 10000 ODI runs, 210 Test match catches; his accomplishments on the ground are innumerable. But the love and respect Dravid has earned among fans is a testament to his class as a human being.
Although his grit and determination is the reason for his unbreachable defence, he hoped for a little luck factor as well. He always used to wear his right thigh pad first, and he never used a fresh bat at the start of a series. It isn’t really difficult to conceive that for someone who lived his entire life in a typical middle-class manner, would believe in superstitions.
His marathon 233-run knock in Adelaide against Australia is etched in the Indian folklore. The right-hander led India to successful Test series victories in West Indies, South Africa and England. The 46-year-old has now been assigned the role to nurture the upcoming generation. Last year, under Dravid’s coaching, India won the Under-19 World Cup.
Lasith Malinga (Kissed the bowl before every ball)
Lasith Malinga. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Lasith Malinga has been Sri Lanka’s greatest match-winner with the ball in hand. Making his debut in 2004, it was until the 2007 World Cup when every batsman recognized a threat in Malinga. His feat of four wickets in four balls took the world by a storm.
Curly coloured hair, scampered run-up and an uncanny slinging action- we have noticed all these oddities in Lasith Malinga over the years. Along with these Malinga uses a very unique superstition. He kisses the ball every single time he runs up to bowl. He believes that his gentle puff on the ball will bring him fortunes.
Malinga’s career has been marred with plenty of injuries; therefore he retired from Test cricket in 2010 but not before picking 101 wickets. He has scalped 338 ODI wickets and 97 T20I wickets to go with 170 wickets in IPL. The 35-year-old has recently taken retirement from ODIs and will be available for T20s. In his last ODI against Bangladesh, Malinga returned with figures of 3/38.
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