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Best and Worst: Predictions

James Wallace by James Wallace
@Jimbo_Cricket 3 minute read

So seer yet so far, cricket has had its fair share of false prophets. James Wallace lists down the most accurate of cricket predictions and the ones that went horribly wrong.

First published in issue 36 of Wisden Cricket Monthly


Dom Sibley’s grandad

A maiden Test century is a momentous occasion for any player. Dom Sibley’s grandad, Kenneth, made the opener’s first ton even more poignant. As Sibley was making his way to three figures at Newlands, his family came across some dog-eared betting slips staked when Dom was a heavy-scoring youngster. It transpired that Kenneth had had the nouse to predict his grandson would one day play for England. William Hill honoured the odds of 150-1 they had offered when Sibley was aged just five, the opener unknowingly securing a windfall of £21,000 when he debuted against New Zealand last year. Sadly, Kenneth passed away in 2011 but the bookies paid out and his decade’s old flutter came to fruition.

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Shane Warne

I predict a… diet and the influence of new English girlfriend Liz Hurley were partly responsible for Warne’s post-retirement makeover, rather than some of his old ma’s diuretic pills. A newly svelte Warney popped up for the Melbourne Stars in 2011’s Big Bash seemingly with a whole new skill to add to his repertoire: precognition. Mic’d up to the commentary box when asked how he was going to go about bowling to a well-set Brendon McCullum, he replied, literally while ambling into bowl: “I think he might be trying to sweep one after that first one. So I’ll try and slide one in there… fast.” Sure enough, he did exactly that, bowling the Kiwi biffer with a quicker one. “Not bad” he chirped while being mobbed by his teammates.

Glenn McGrath

Some things in cricket seem certain, just ask Mike Atherton. The plucky opener was dismissed a record 19 times in Tests by McGrath. He was in good company, Brian Lara succumbing to the Aussie metronome on 15 occasions. And it was Lara who McGrath predicted would be his 300th Test victim ahead of a match between the two sides at the WACA in 2000, making the pronouncement to Mark Taylor in a pre-match interview. McGrath came good on his word, with Lara snicking off first ball. What’s more, he was the middle wicket of a Test hat-trick, as Sherwin Campbell and Jimmy Adams fell either side. McGrath’s credentials as a clairvoyant cemented forever?


Glenn McGrath

Not quite. McGrath proved to be slightly more realistic in predicting his own fortunes than when forecasting those of his team, his ‘premonitions’ ahead of Ashes series proving to be more Mystic Meg than Nostradamus. “I can’t see England beating them and I’m more than happy to predict 5-0,” he announced ahead of the 2015 Ashes, which Australia then lost. Like a stopped clock, and due to England’s frailties Down Under, he has been annoyingly correct on a couple of occasions, but it doesn’t count if you just predict 5-0 every single time, Glenn.

Ian Botham

Lord Beef of Beefshire is another former great to suffer the ignominy of making a sweeping Ashes prediction, besting even McGrath with his 2013 shout that England would do the double over Australia and stuff them 10-0 in back-to-back series. “I haven’t seen anything to remotely make me feel as though I need to change my initial prediction of a double 5-0,” Botham announced regally while crunching an abacus in his meaty paw and throwing it over his shoulder like an old king would with some chicken bones (actually it appeared in his Daily Mirror column). Not to be, Ian Bell’s summer sticking plaster gave way to Mitchell Johnson’s winter of un-relent and 3-0 turned into 5-3.

Sanjay Manjrekar

Beware the curse of the keypad. Sanjay Manjrekar, the former Indian batsman turned pundit, pressed send on a tweet in 2012 in which he appeared to suggest Virat Kohli was not cut out for Test cricket. The message is dredged up like a sacrilegious shopping trolley from a digital canal every time Kohli scores runs, which, annoyingly for Manjrekar, is all the time.

First published in issue 36 of Wisden Cricket Monthly

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