by Adrian Worton

In cricket, reaching 100 runs in an innings (a century) is a major milestone - the number of centuries a player makes in his career is a major statistic which is used in comparisons between batsmen. When Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to reach 100 international centuries the celebrations across India were huge.

In cricket, reaching 100 runs in an innings (a century) is a major milestone - the number of centuries a player makes in his career is a major statistic which is used in comparisons between batsmen. When Sachin Tendulkar became the first player to reach 100 international centuries the celebrations across India were huge.

With this in mind, it would be no surprise that batsmen become nervous when closing in on a century. It is perceived that once a player reaches the nineties, these nerves mean he is more likely to get out before reaching 100.

We can test this theory quite simply by looking at the proportion of players dismissed in the 90s, compared to each of the other run-scoring 'decades'.

Firstly, we will just look at innings which end in a dismissal - i.e. ignoring that where the batsman finished not out. We can look at this selected year-by-year to see if there are any overall trends:

We can test this theory quite simply by looking at the proportion of players dismissed in the 90s, compared to each of the other run-scoring 'decades'.

**Our sample**

We will look at all Test innings from 2000 onwards, looking at each bracket of ten runs from 0-9 up to 200-209.Firstly, we will just look at innings which end in a dismissal - i.e. ignoring that where the batsman finished not out. We can look at this selected year-by-year to see if there are any overall trends:

Note that we have taken the log of each category, in order to make it easier to see the higher-scoring categories.

No distinct pattern presents itself. We can see that the way runs are scored appears to be quite constant, albeit with three years where less runs were scored: 2000, 2007 and 2015.

If we focus on the 90s (in yellow), we see that this section doesn't appear to be abnormally larger than those around it. However, we can get a clearer idea of whether the 90s are particularly significant by looking at the probability of being dismissed in each decade.

By looking at each decade within our sample, we get the following probabilities:

No distinct pattern presents itself. We can see that the way runs are scored appears to be quite constant, albeit with three years where less runs were scored: 2000, 2007 and 2015.

If we focus on the 90s (in yellow), we see that this section doesn't appear to be abnormally larger than those around it. However, we can get a clearer idea of whether the 90s are particularly significant by looking at the probability of being dismissed in each decade.

**Likelihood of dismissal**

To find the chance of a player being dismissed in each 10-run boundary, we first count the number of players who leave that group - either by being dismissed or by reaching the next decade. We then find the proportion of that group who were dismissed.By looking at each decade within our sample, we get the following probabilities:

The striking thing is that the 90s are in fact the lowest decade until the 120s. So in fact, we can decisively reject the notion that being within 10 runs of a century makes a batsman more likely to be dismissed. If anything, the pressure focuses the mind of the batsmen more, which we would expect from professional sportsmen. And when the pressure is off, when the player has reached the century, then they are more at risk.

**Conclusion**

It's no surprised that received wisdom in cricket isn't always spot-on. You just need to see the antagonistic attitude of many cricket commentators and pundits to the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, primarily on the basis that they don't understand it, to get an idea of the lack of faith in numbers that many of the sport's old-boys network have.