As sunshine-filled Nelson prepares to host the elite of world cricket during the Cricket World Cup 2015, the South Island region is also ready to showcase a unique custom on an unprecedented scale.
One of the oldest settler towns in New Zealand, cricket was prominent from Nelson's earliest colonial days and when looking beneath the surface of the region’s illustrious ties with the game, it’s hard not to stumble upon an unusual but enduring colourful cricketing superstition known as ‘the Nelson’.
The term ‘Nelson’ applies to a team or individual cricket score of 111 – a score believed to be the unluckiest in sport but, as with most superstitions, there is an air of mystery surrounding just how this one came to be.
The city of Nelson itself is named after revered British naval legend Lord Horatio Nelson who is believed to have lost an eye, an arm and a leg in battle – the score is considered unlucky because of its graphic similarity to three stumps - a wicket, and was dubbed ‘Nelson's’ in the early days of the sport.
But history proves this to be untrue. Lord Nelson never lost a leg, adding intrigue to just why cricketers, fans and even international umpires ceremoniously lift one foot off the ground whenever a score of 111 is reached.
Some players believe bad things will happen when reaching that score, because the number resembles a wicket without bails. It was English umpire David Shepherd who made the longstanding practice of raising a leg from the ground in Nelson popular. This was said to be to guard against ill fate and when the cricket crowds noticed this, they would cheer.
With three games set to take place at Nelson’s Saxton Oval during the Cricket World Cup 2015 (Ireland v West Indies, Zimbabwe v UAE, Bangladesh v Scotland) Nelson, New Zealand and the world are being urged to do the ‘Nelson’.
World record attempt
There’ll be plenty of opportunities to take part in this fun tradition, not only at games across Cricket World Cup 2015, but at other activities planned in Nelson city for the Festival of Cricket that will be surrounding the matches.
Nelson city is also ready to take this tradition wider than it has ever been before, with a series of planned one legged ‘Nelson’ world record attempts – these include a community one legged record attempt on 15 February 2015 and an attempt to get one of the world’s biggest cricket stars – West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle - in on the action.
Nelson’s inspirational landscapes and vibrant creative environment offer visitors the opportunity to meet and mix with local artists and craftspeople, visit their studios, and participate in art tours and workshops.
Kilometres of golden sand beaches and vast protected national park areas set the scene for year-round nature, wildlife and outdoor experiences including sea kayaking, rock climbing, white-water rafting, mountain biking, sailing, horse trekking and swimming with marine life.
The sea surrounding Nelson is the source of some of New Zealand’s finest seafood, and the sunny coastal climate produces grapes for wine, fresh fruit and produce. Cycling the Great Taste Cycle Trail is a popular way for visitors to explore some of Nelson’s best flavours.