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Cricket is full of different terminology and you’ll occasionally hear commentators talking about the ‘nervous nineties.’ Here’s what they mean.
What are the Nervous Nineties in Cricket?
Whenever a batter’s score reaches 90 or more it can be said that they are in the ‘nervous nineties.’ In cricket, a century is seen as a significant milestone for a batter so, they can become nervous when they get close to that score.
Nerves can take over and the batter can play a poor shot as they look to get to 100. For those reasons, cricket has the phenomenon known as the ‘nervous nineties’.
How Many Times has Sachin Tendulkar got out in the 90s?
Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for being dismissed most times in the 90s in international cricket. Across his long career from 1989 to 2013, he was out on 28 occasions after reaching 90 runs.
That total comprises 18 dismissals in ODIs and 10 in test matches.
Players with Most Nineties in ODI
Sachin Tendulkar (18 times)
As we have already seen, Sachin Tendulkar holds the record for most scores in the 90s in One Day cricket. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising: After all, he did make 49 centuries in ODIs and you have to be a brilliant batsman to reach 90 on such a consistent basis.
Grant Flower (9 times)
Grant Flower was an effective middle order batter who played in a very strong Zimbabwe side. He contributed 12 centuries to the international cause and those tons were divided equally between tests and ODIs.
Flower’s impressive stats could have been even better had he converted nine of his 90+ scores into tons.
Nathan Astle (9 times)
New Zealand’s Nathan Astle will be remembered for hitting the fastest Test double century against England in 2002. He was an effective one day batter too and he reached 90 on nine occasions before being dismissed.
Aravinda de Silva (9 times)
Aravinda de Silva was a part of the great Sri Lankan side that transformed cricket in the 1990s and won the World Cup in 1996. He played in 308 ODIs and made eleven centuries.
That record would have been even better if De Silva had managed to convert nine of his 90+ scores into tons.
Jacques Kallis (8 times)
Many say that Jacques Kallis was the best all-rounder in the history of cricket and it’s hard to argue with that assessment. He was an effective batter across the formats and made nearly 25,000 international runs.
Kallis made 17 hundreds in ODIs but missed out on eight other occasions when he was dismissed in the nervous nineties.
Most Nervous 90 in Test Cricket
Sachin Tendulkar (10 times)
Sachin Tendulkar was also dismissed in the 90s on ten occasions in test match cricket. Perhaps that isn’t surprising as he played 200 tests, more than anyone else, and he was one of the most prolific batters of all time.
He was also famous for making exactly 100 international centuries. That’s a record that may never be equalled, but did an issue with the ‘nervous 90s’ stop Tendulkar from hitting the milestone much earlier?
Rahul Dravid (10 times)
Sachin’s team mate for many years, Rahul Dravid was also dismissed on 10 occasions in the 90s in test cricket. He was known as the Wall for his obdurate batting, but did Dravid have a weakness as he approached three figures?
Steve Waugh (10 times)
The third player to have been dismissed in the 90s on ten occasions in tests is Steve Waugh. A brilliant competitive captain, he scored no fewer than 32 test centuries.
He could have taken that total to 42 but missed out on more milestones with those ten dismissals.
MJ Slater (9 times)
Michael Slater was a powerful opening batter and the fact that he went for his shots at all stages of an innings could be a factor here. He wouldn’t change his style of play at any point and that approach could have contributed to his nine dismissals in the 90s in tests.
AI Kallicharran (8 times)
Alvin Kallicharran was a prolific batter who played 66 tests for the West Indies between 1972 and 1981. He finished with 12 test centuries, but fell short on eight further occasions with scores in the 90s.
AB de Villiers (8 times)
Known as Mr 360 for his ability to play shots all around the wicket, South Africa’s AB De Villiers took a similar approach to his batting as Michael Slater.
AB made 22 centuries in his test career, but missed out on eight more by being dismissed in the 90s.
Inzamam-ul-Haq (8 times)
Pakistan’s great batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq completes the list of players with eight dismissals in the 90s. He was more patient in his approach than De Villiers and Slater, so was this a case of nerves getting to him as he approached his century?
These statistics are open to some level of interpretation. We’ve seen that Sachin Tendulkar was given out in the 90s more times than anyone else, but was that because he was nervous?
Sachin made 100 international centuries in his career, so it could be argued that he got to a score of 90 more times than anyone else because of his sheer quality.
Club cricketers will certainly know that nerves can be a factor when we’re getting close to a batting milestone. The problem can often be that you want to get to 50 or 100 as quickly as possible and that’s when we’re vulnerable to a poor shot.
Anyway, it seems we are not alone and there are some very fine names on this list that have been dismissed multiple times in the nervous nineties.