The Hundredth Mile : How teams fared in their centenary Tests

In this special piece, we take a look at how every national side went about in their centenary tests.

Akram will always be considered the best fast bowler from Indian subcontinent

With Bangladesh having played their 100th Test against Sri Lanka, all the ten current Test-playing nations have completed playing at least 100 matches in the oldest format of the game. The newest ICC full member also became the quickest to play their centenary Test.

Despite their pathetic records in Tests with just nine wins, Bangladesh became the fourth nation to win their 100th Test – joining the elite league of Australia, West Indies and Pakistan. On this occasion, let us go through the centenary Test of each of these ten nations and see how they fared on the historic occasion.

England (lost) v Australia, Leeds, 1909: The first team to play a century of matches was the inventor of the game – England. However, the Englishmen had a forgettable encounter that summer at Headingley when they went down to their Ashes rivals Australia – the latter were later to master the art of the sports. Syd Gregory (46) and Vernon Ransford (45) helped the tourists put up 188 on the board while Wilfred Rhodes claimed four wickets in eight overs. Despite losing Fry and Hobbs early, the hosts were uplifted by Tyldesley (55) and Sharp (61) – before losing their last eight wickets for just 45. Charles Macartney put up a career-best haul of 7 for 58. With a slender lead of six runs, Australia made 207 – Warwick Armstrong top scoring with 45 with good contributions down the order. Sydney Barnes picked up a six-fer. Chasing 214, England faded inside 38 overs – Sir Jack Hobbs scoring 30 out of a total 87. Cotter joined MacCartney to share the spoils.

Brief scores: Australia – 188 and 207; England – 182 and 87

Australia (won) v South Africa, Manchester, 1912: Opener Charles Kelleway (114) and two-down Warren Bardsley (121) scored tons as Australia amassed 448 in the first match of the Triangular Tournament – England being the other team. Aubrey Faulkner scored an unbeaten 122 in South Africa’s 116-over resilience that failed to avoid the follow-on. However in the second outing, the Proteas lasted lesser than one-fourth of their first innings overs – handing Australia an emphatic victory by the margin of an innings and 88 runs.

Brief scores: Australia – 448; South Africa – 265 and 95

South Africa (lost) v England, Port Elizabeth, 1949: Boosted by Bruce Mitchell (99) and keeper Billy Wade (125), the hosts piled up 379 only to be countered by touring skipper George Mann’s unbeaten 136. Behind by 16, skipper Dudley Nourse took risk in giving an early declaration – setting the visitors 172 to get from 95 minutes. Hutton (32) and Washbrook (44) started the chase well before Compton (42) joined in to take England to 100 inside an hour. A flurry of wickets fell but Jack Crapp (26*) held the nerves by smacking ten off three deliveries in the last minute to seal the deal.

Brief scores: South Africa – 379 and 187/3; England – 395 and 174/7

West Indies (won) v Australia, Kingston, 1965: In what was the hosts first ever home win over Australia, opener Sir Conrad Hunte (41 and 81) was helped by lower West Indian batsmen on both the occasions – including an unbeaten fifty from debutant Tony White. Another knight recipient in Wes Hall claimed nine in the match with his lightning fast pace bowling. Australian debutant Laurie Mayne too picked up eight across the innings – but batting failure let the visitors down.

Brief scores: West Indies – 239 and 373; Australia – 217 and 216

India (lost) v England, Birmingham, 1967: The centenary Test remained all the more ordinary for India as the Englishmen inflicted a whitewash in a match that the visitors probably lost halfway through. India folded for 92 – giving England a first-innings lead of 206 but the hosts were kind enough of not following their opponents on. Chasing an improbable target of 410, India lost the match inside three days. A few note worthy performances include that of Erapalli Prasanna (7 wickets in the match) and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar (6 in the match) with the cherry and that of Ajit Wadekar (70) and skipper Pataudi Jr. (47) in the second innings.

Brief scores: England – 298 and 203; India – 92 and 277

New Zealand (drew) v West Indies, Bridgetown, 1972: After Bruce Taylor (7/74) folded the hosts for a paltry, the Kiwis rode on centuries from skipper Congdon and Hastings to take a lead of 289 at the half-stage. However, a 254-run sixth wicket stand between Charlie Davis (183) and Sir Gary Sobers (142) bailed out West Indies from imminent danger before the tailenders held the fort on the final hours to ensure a stalemate. The hosts batted for 214 overs in the second innings to make up for their first innings collapse within 50.

Brief scores: West Indies – 133 and 564/8; New Zealand – 422

Pakistan (won) v Australia, Melbourne, 1979: Imran Khan displayed an all-round performance with four wickets in the first innings coupled with 33 and 28 with the bat to ensure Pakistan set a target of 382 before the hosts. Opener Majid Khan scored the first hundred of the match in Pakistan’s second outing. Australia started well and while Allan Border (105) and Kim Hughes (84) were in the middle, they looked assured of finishing home. However, the Sarfraz Nawaz (9/86) storm blew Australia’s lower order as the hosts lost the plot in the final hour – Australia lost their last seven wickets for just 5 runs in 65 balls – in what was one of the worst possible collapses of all time.

Brief scores: Pakistan – 196 and 353/9 dec; Australia – 168 and 310

Sri Lanka (lost) v Pakistan, Colombo, 2000: Paceman Waqar Younis (3/50) and spinner Arshad Khan (4/62) restricted Sri Lanka from flying high after initial boosts from Marvan Atapattu (73) and Mahela Jayawardene (77). Wasim Akram’s stoic 78 coupled with a 95-ball 9 from Arshad helped the visitors add 90 for the last wicket to reduce the arrear to negligible. Later a fifer from Akram brushed Sri Lankan aside as Pakistan chased off the required with a day to spare.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka – 273 and 123; Pakistan – 266 and 131/5

Zimbabwe (lost) v Sri Lanka, Harare, 2016: A few months back, Zimbabwe played their centenary Test when Sri Lanka toured the African nation. Twin centuries from Kusal Perera and Upul Tharanga helped the tourists build a huge total. Peter Moor (79) and Donald Tiripano (46) assisted the centurion skipper Graeme Cremer in avoiding the follow on for the hosts. Dimuth Karunaratne hit a century as Sri Lanka set a target of 412 for the hosts with a full day left. Once again Cremer tried his best to stay afloat before finally surrendering at the last hour of the match.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka – 537 and 247/6; Zimbabwe –373 and 186

Bnagladesh (won) v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2017: Dinesh Chandimal (138) led from the front as the hosts crawled to 338. All the Bangladesh batsmen contributed to their team’s cause while Shakib Al Hasan scored an attacking century to steal a vital lead of 129. After Karunaratne’s century up the order, Dilruwan Perera (50) and Suranga Lakmal (42) helped Sri Lanka put up a respectable target before Bangladesh on the final day. However, opener Tamim Iqbal scored an 82 to give the ideal start to the tourists before the Tigers sealed their first victory over Sri Lanka to make the occasion more memorable.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka – 338 and 319; Bangladesh – 467 and 191/6

Photo by Arijit Basak