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All about triple hundreds in Test cricket


Triple_hundreds_Test_Cricket_batsmenThe recently-concluded Adelaide Test between Australia and Pakistan saw David Warner join the select club of batsmen to have scored a Test triple hundred, as his swashbuckling 335* paved the way for an innings win for the hosts. The southpaw’s innings provided the 31st instance of a Test triple hundred, and the eighth such instance by an Australian. In view of this latest addition to the list, here is a look at a few snippets and numbers involving triple hundreds in Test cricket.

Country-wise breakdown

Australia have produced eight triples – the most by any country. The West Indies come second with six, followed by England (five) and Pakistan (four). India and Sri Lanka have three each, while New Zealand and South Africa have one each. On the other hand, England have conceded the most (nine). India and Pakistan have conceded four each; New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies three each; Sri Lanka two; and Australia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe one each.

The first triple hundred

The first Test triple hundred was recorded by England’s Andy Sandham, who scored 325 against the West Indies at Kingston in 1929-30. In what was a timeless Test, the Surrey opener batted for ten hours during his innings, powering England to 849 – then the highest Test total. Despite a lead of 563, England batted again and set a target of 836. The hosts were 408/5 on the ninth day when the match was agreed to be drawn, since the boat carrying the visitors home had to leave.

Progression of the highest individual Test score

Before Sandham’s 325, the highest Test score belonged to his countryman Reginald ‘Tip’ Foster, who had scored 287 against Australia at Sydney in 1903-04. Sandham’s mark was surpassed by Australian legend Don Bradman’s 334 against England at Headingley in 1930, which was in turn beaten by Wally Hammond’s 336* for England against New Zealand at Auckland in 1932-33. Another Englishman, Len Hutton, broke the record during the 1938 Ashes with 364 at The Oval.

Hutton’s 364 was not bettered until 1957-58, when West Indian Garry Sobers hit 365* against Pakistan at Kingston. Sobers held the record for 36 years – fellow West Indian Brian Lara broke it with 375 against England at St. John’s in 1993-94. Australia’s Matthew Hayden went on top by making 380 against Zimbabwe at Perth in 2003-04, but the imperious Lara astonishingly wrested the record back just six months later, scoring 400* against England, again at St. John’s.

Triple hundreds by position, venue and decade

16 of the 31 Test triples so far have been scored by openers (eight of them by the batsman taking first strike in the innings). Another eight have been scored from the number three position, three from number four, and four from number five.

England and the West Indies have been the scenes for seven triple hundreds each. Australia and Pakistan have witnessed four each, Sri Lanka three, and India and New Zealand two each. Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates round off the list with one instance each. As far as grounds are concerned, Headingley in Leeds and the Antigua Recreation Ground in St. John’s lead the way, having seen three triple hundreds each.

Half of the 31 Test triples have come in the last two decades – eight each in the 2000s and the 2010s. The 1930s come in next with five instances, followed by the 1990s with four, the 1960s with three, the 1950s with two, and the 1970s with one.

Home and away, wins and draws

Of the 31 triples, 20 have been scored at home (the UAE has been considered as Pakistan’s home) and 11 overseas. As regards the match result, 13 triples have been in a winning cause, while 18 have been in drawn Tests. The highest Test score overseas is Hanif Mohammad’s 337 for Pakistan against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1957-58, while the highest in a winning cause overseas is Hashim Amla’s 311* for South Africa against England at The Oval in 2012.

Youngest and oldest, lefties and righties

Sobers is the youngest man to score a Test triple – he was aged 21 years and 213 days while scoring 365* against Pakistan in 1957-58, narrowly going past Bradman, who was 21 years and 318 days old during his 334 against England in 1930. Meanwhile, Sandham remains the oldest; he made his 325 at the age of 39 years and 271 days. The second oldest is Graham Gooch, who was 37 years and 3 days old when he scored 333 for England against India at Lord’s in 1990.

Right-handed batsmen have contributed 19 out of 31 Test triples. However, remarkably, the record for the highest individual Test score has been held by left-handed batsmen ever since Sobers’ 365* in 1957-58 – until that point, the record had been held by right-handed batsmen since the inaugural Test match in 1876-77.

Fastest and slowest

The fastest Test triple in terms of balls has been scored by India’s Virender Sehwag, who faced just 278 deliveries to reach the landmark in the course of his 319 against South Africa at Chennai in 2007-08. The fastest in terms of minutes (288) was achieved by Hammond, during his aforesaid 336* in Auckland. The slowest, by far, was scored by Hanif en route to his 337 (the longest Test innings) at Bridgetown in 1957-58 – he took 858 minutes to reach the milestone.

Triple hundred more than once

Four men have achieved the distinction of scoring triple hundreds on two occasions in Test cricket – Bradman (334 in 1930 and 304 in 1934, both against England at Headingley), Lara (375 in 1993-94 and 400* in 2003-04, both against England at St. John’s), Sehwag (309 against Pakistan at Multan in 2003-04 and 319 against South Africa) and West Indian Chris Gayle (317 against South Africa at St. John’s in 2004-05 and 333 against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2010-11).

Triple hundreds by captains

There have been eight Test triple hundreds by captains, as follows:-

i) 311 by Bob Simpson (Australia) v England, Old Trafford, 1964; ii) 333 by Gooch; iii) 334* by Mark Taylor (Australia) v Pakistan, Peshawar, 1998-99; iv) 400* by Lara; v) 374 by Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka) v South Africa, Colombo, 2006; vi) 313 by Younis Khan (Pakistan) v Sri Lanka, Karachi, 2008-09; vii) 329 by Michael Clarke (Australia) v India, Sydney, 2011-12; and viii) 302 by Brendon McCullum (New Zealand) v India, Wellington, 2013-14.

Second-innings triple hundreds

Only two Test triple hundreds have been scored in the team’s second innings, and both were heroic efforts that secured draws despite adverse circumstances. The first instance was Hanif’s epic 337, scored after Pakistan were forced to follow on 473 in arrears at Bridgetown in 1957-58. The second instance was McCullum’s 302 against India at Wellington in 2013-14, which helped New Zealand recover from a position of being 152 runs behind with only five wickets in hand.

The near-misses

There have been seven instances of a batsman finishing with a score in the 290s in a Test innings, as follows:-

i) 299* by Don Bradman (Australia) v South Africa, Adelaide, 1931-32; ii) 299 by Martin Crowe (New Zealand) v Sri Lanka, Wellington, 1990-91; iii) 294 by Alastair Cook (England) v India, Edgbaston, 2011; iv) 293 by Virender Sehwag (India) v Sri Lanka, Mumbai, 2009-10; v) 291 by Viv Richards (West Indies) v England, The Oval, 1976; vi) 291 by Ramnaresh Sarwan (West Indies) v England, Bridgetown, 2008-09; and vii) 290 by Ross Taylor (New Zealand) v Australia, Perth, 2015-16.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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