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Batting Rituals to Khichdi Magic: Unveiling Cricketer's Peculiar Superstitions!

From strapping bats to the ceiling to khichdi obsessions, cricket legends and players have quirky superstitions that weave into the sport's rich tapestry

16 Jan '24
7 min read


In every cricket-loving household, superstitions are rife during an India match. In my home, a unique belief takes centre stage – my dad refrains from using the washroom when India is batting, a ritual attributed to my mother's observation linking it to wickets falling in the past. There have been instances when I hesitated to step out of my room during a successful Indian chase, convinced that my presence in the living room would reverse the good luck. 

Interestingly, superstitions are not exclusive to us alone; even cricketing legends and teams have their own peculiar rituals. For instance, Australia, known for its dislike of the number 13, extends this aversion to 87, thirteen short of a century. 

It gets more bizarre as we will uncover in the article listing the unique superstitions or rituals our beloved cricketers follow to keep the good luck going. As eccentric as these may sound, they embroider the tapestry of cricketing culture.

Let’s start with the weirdest ones I have come across:

McKenzie's Bat-to-Ceiling Tradition

To date, this is the most absurd superstition I have heard of. Neil McKenzie, the ex-South African batsman, had this thing where he'd strap his bat to the ceiling and ensure all toilet seats were down and the locker room lights were off when he went out to bat.

Believe it or not, it all started as a prank from his teammates who hung his bat on the dressing room ceiling while he was batting. The crazy part? He scored a century that day, and bam, a superstition was born. 

And when he was at the crease, McKenzie had this routine of checking out square leg, and fine leg, and then locking eyes with the bowler. 

It became the talking point for many years and, eventually, in an interview, Kenzie confessed his superstition bordered on OCD.

MS Dhoni: The Khichdi bias

During the 2011 World Cup, our skipper MS Dhoni had this unique superstition going – he was all about khichdi throughout the tournament. Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag revealed this anecdote after the Cricket World Cup 2023 fixtures were announced in Mumbai. Sehwag shared that Dhoni stuck to his superstition, even when the runs weren't flowing from his bat. “He used to say that even if I’m not scoring runs but this superstition is working, and we’re winning matches,” Sehwag recalled.

We did win the World Cup. The khichdi did its magic. 

Left Pad First for Sachin Tendulkar 

Even the master blaster Sachin Tendulkar wasn't immune to superstitions. The legendary cricketer would follow a specific routine while gearing up to step onto the field with the bat. Tendulkar's move? Strapping on the left pad first before facing the bowlers as he believed it would bring out his A-game. 

He spilled the beans that he didn't catch the 2011 ICC World Cup final live. He was in the dressing room, locked in prayer mode, while India clinched the title.

Jayasuriya’s Constant Touches

Sri Lankan cricket icon Sanath Jayasuriya had a meticulous routine of touching each piece of his batting equipment before taking on every ball. Considering he faced an impressive total of 25,895 deliveries across all three formats, that's quite a bit of touching – and that doesn't even account for his contributions in domestic cricket!

He further explained this superstition in his book Sanath Jayasuriya: A Biography, “I touch a spot on my helmet and both my pads before every ball. Every time I hit a boundary, I have the habit of going to the middle of the pitch and tapping it.”

Anil Kumble’s Sweater Ritual with Tendulkar

In the annals of cricketing history, there's a fascinating tale from Anil Kumble's legendary 10-wicket spell against Pakistan in 1999. In that Delhi match, Sachin Tendulkar, with a touch of ritualistic flair, would dash in, grab Kumble's pullover, and hand it over to the umpire, believing it would bring a breakthrough. And, as they say, the rest is history – every time Sachin pulled this sweater exercise, Kumble delivered with a wicket!

Gavaskar-Srikanth: The ‘Right’ Opening Chemistry

In the era when Sunil Gavaskar and Srikanth formed a formidable opening duo, Srikanth made it a point to position himself on the right side while coming out to bat. In the Test series final against Pakistan in 1986-87, Gavaskar played a remarkable innings despite India not clinching the victory. Following that match, Gavaskar adopted the practice of always standing on the right side of his opening partner.

Rahul Dravid: The Right Thigh Pad Secret

Just like the above players, Rahul Dravid, affectionately known as Mr Dependable on the field, has his superstitions. He sticks to the same bat for an entire series, and the right thigh pad always goes on first. In a bit of pre-Lord's Test ritual in 2010, he made sure to claim the exact spot in the visitors' dressing room that Tillakaratne Dilshan had during his near double-hundred earlier in the season. Turns out, Dravid notched up his first century at Lord's in that very game.

Steve Waugh’s Lucky Red Handkerchief

So, let's talk about Steve Waugh, the Aussie skipper legend. The esteemed former Australian captain, known for leading his team to numerous victories home, harboured a personal superstition with a sentimental touch.  

The right-handed all-rounder unfailingly carried a red handkerchief in his left pocket at every match he was batting. This particular handkerchief held a deep significance as it was a gift from his grandmother. Waugh firmly believed that having this red fabric with him brought a stroke of luck on the cricket field.

By the time he retired in 2004, the handkerchief was worn and tattered. Even in that state, he considered it a cherished lucky charm. Waugh even extended this sentiment to Windies batsman Marlon Samuels by sharing a piece of this handkerchief as the latter impressed him with his skill and temperament.

Virendra Sehwag’s Numberless Jersey

At the start of his cricketing journey, Sehwag sported a jersey proudly displaying the number 04. Legend has it that the former batsman experimented with different numbers until a family-trusted numerology guru suggested he don a jersey without any number to reclaim his lost glory.

Sehwag's conviction in this belief was unwavering. Despite the International Cricket Council (ICC) expressing their disapproval of the numberless jersey, he persisted in wearing it.

Sehwag, himself, has confessed to being superstitious, which kept him from cheering  Tendulkar’s double ton in Gwalior. “I never praise a shot because I fear the moment I do so, the batsman gets out. Till Sachin was on 190 in Gwalior, I was rooted in my seat in the dressing room. But when he got to 190, I couldn't contain myself. I came out and started cheering every stroke till he got to 200," Sehwag reminisced at one of his interviews.

Umpire Shepherd's Leg-Raising Tradition to Ward Off The ‘Nelson’

This one is an exception to the list as it’s related to a cricket myth and the theatrics of an umpire. 

Ever wondered about the cricketing superstition surrounding the score of 111 and its multiples, famously known as the 'Nelson'? Umpire David Shepherd, in a quirky tradition, would lift one leg off the ground every time the score reached 111 or its multiples, aiming to ward off bad luck. The origin is linked to Lord Nelson's mythical lost eye, arm, and leg, despite historical accuracy stating otherwise. 

This peculiar ritual even made a cameo during the Test match between Australia and South Africa on November 11, 2011, at 11:11, when the scoreboard read 111 runs needed for South Africa to win. Umpire Ian Gould and spectators joined in to enjoy the sight of Shepherd’s leg-raising tradition at this minute with the scoreboard reading: 11:11 11/11/11 and 111 runs needed to win.

Category : Sports


Written by Madhuwanti Saha

Writer, Journalist , Photographer