15th March 1877 – a significant day in history. It saw the birth of the game’s premier format – Test cricket as Australia hosted England at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground for the first-ever Test.
Having won the toss, the hosts opted to bat and scored a solid 245 runs in 169 overs (an over had 4 balls at that stage). With both teams struggling in the next two innings, the visitors were set a target of 154 for victory. A special spell by Tom Kendell, with him picking up 7 wickets ensured that Australia won the first Test match in history by 45 runs.
Australia and England would go on have a number of incredible battles over the years, but so would West Indies, India, Pakistan, South Africa and a host of other nations.
140 years after the first Test, the format still lives large, as the absolute pinnacle of the sport. It survives as the ultimate test of mind, body and soul while exemplifying everything that embodies the sport of cricket.
In this article, we look at the teams have fared over the years listing down some of the most important records.
Most matches played
It comes as no surprise whatsoever that England have played the most number of matches in history. It is the traditional home for the game and they enjoy the longest home season of any teams. Australia are a close second having started playing the format at the same time.
West Indies, who dominated the game from the 70s to the 90s have played the third most Tests, while India, who played her first match in 1932, comes in fourth with 510 matches.
Despite having played their first Test in 1889, South Africa have only played a total of 409 Tests due to their ban from international cricket during the years of apartheid.
Most matches won
Australia and England are bitter rivals and the former can hold the fact that they have registered 26 more wins despite playing almost 200 Tests less against the latter. The Windies have enjoyed both incredible highs and bitter lows and even though their total of 165 wins is the third highest in history, they would feel that they should have had more.
There is great news for Indian fans as they hold the edge over Pakistan 138 – 130 but Pakistani fans can take heart from the fact that they have played 100 Tests less than India but have nearly registered the same number of wins.
Most matches lost and drawn
England have both lost and drawn the most number of matches at 289 and 343 respectively but can take solace from the fact that they have drawn more matches than they have lost. Owing to the Aussies aggressive style of play, they have lost more matches than they have drawn.
The loss-draw record says a lot about the style of cricket adopted by different nations. While India, England and Pakistan have more draws than losses, teams like West Indies, Australia and South Africa have ended up losing more matches than draws.
Highest innings totals
This list is an absolute delight for fans who enjoy watching teams batting. The lowest amongst these scores belongs to Zimbabwe, who managed a more than respectable 563. The highest innings total has been recorded by Sri Lanka, who scored a ridiculous 952 runs against India in Colombo in 1997.
Apart from the Lankans, the only other team to breach the 900 run barrier is England. India’s highest score is 759, which they managed against England towards the end of 2016 in Chennai.
Lowest innings totals
It is unfortunate to highlight the lowest innings score as it almost makes for comical reading. At the same time, it is a tribute to the bowlers who deserve as much credit as the batsmen when their records are highlighted.
The Kiwis hold the record for the lowest score of all time when they managed just 26 against England at Auckland in 1955. South Africa have the second lowest total with 30, which they managed against England in 1896. The Proteas embarrassingly also recorded scores of 30, 35 and 36 in the early part of their Test cricket journey.
India’s lowest score is an almost respectable 42 given the context, when they were outclassed by the English at Lords in 1974.