Top 10: Fastest to 20 Centuries in Test Cricket

Staying consistent and scoring 20 centuries in a Test career requires a combination of technical proficiency, mental toughness, adaptability, fitness, the hunger for runs, and patience. Many such batters who possess these attributes and can maintain them consistently over a long period are more likely to achieve the milestone and become legends of the game.

This article will focus on 10 such players who were the fastest to 20 centuries in Test cricket.

#10 Mohammad Yousuf (PAK) – 118 innings

Mohammad Yousuf had been a technically sound batsman who relied on his impeccable timing. He had a perfect balance at the crease and was equally comfortable against pace and spin bowling. His batting style was based on the principles of classical stroke play, and he had a vast array of shots in his arsenal, including the cover drive, square cut, and flick off the pads.

In the game against West Indies in 2006, when the Windies bundled out for a mere 206, Pakistan had a chance to register a huge total. Yousuf, already having a dream year in 2006, continued his form, knocking 192 runs, his 20th Test century in his 118th innings. The knock made Pakistan win the match by 9 wickets.

#9 Gary Sobers (WI) – 118 innings

The batting style of the legendary West Indian batsman Gary Sobers was quite elegant and graceful. He was equally comfortable against fast and spin bowling. He was particularly strong on the offside, and his cover drive was a thing of beauty. His ability to play both off the front and back feet made him a complete batsman who dominated the opponent bowlers. He was among the very few players to end his Test career with an average above 50.

In early 1969, Gary had 19 Test centuries to his name and played Australia in Adelaide. West Indies, batting first, had lost the first four wickets for just 107 runs when Gary walked into bat at No. 6. It was a performance of quickness and determination. The hundred-plus knock of 110 included a massive 15 fours and 2 sixes. Not stopping there, Gary also played a valuable 52 runs in the second innings to help his team draw the game.

#8 Wally Hammond (ENG) – 117 innings

Wally’s batting style was elegant and effortless, and he was a master of the late cut and the cover drive. He was equally comfortable against fast and spin bowling and was known for his excellent footwork and balance at the crease. He was also a very aggressive batsman with a high strike rate, making him a nightmare for bowlers to bowl to.

It was the third Test match of the series for England against South Africa in 1939. When England won the toss and elected to bat first, it was quite expected for them to perform well, and they did. Eddie Paynter and Wally Hammond combined to form a really important partnership. The former registered a double hundred, whereas the latter Wally made a well-composed knock of 120 runs (his 20th Test ton) with 16 boundaries.

#7 Ricky Ponting (AUS) – 116 innings

Ricky Ponting had that blessed game of the onside; his cover drives and pull shot were a treat to watch. He was also very good against spin bowling and was known for his excellent footwork and aggressive, attacking approach.

20th Test Ton: In response to India’s first innings total of 366 in the third Test match between India and Australia 2003, Australia recorded their mammoth first innings total of 558 runs. Ricky, the main contributor to this total, made a knock of 257 runs off 458 balls, which was calm and composed with 25 sweet boundaries.

#6 Sachin Tendulkar (IND) – 107 innings

The more one would say about this player is quite less. One can find him being part of any batting record list. He had good footwork and was a master of playing the ball late. Additionally, his incredible habit of finding gaps constantly and the magical ability to play the ball late contributed much to his success.

Sachin’s 20th Test Century was against New Zealand in October 1999 at Punjab C.A. Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh. India getting bowled out for a paltry score of 83 was uncommon to witness, especially when Sachin was in the peak form of the game. In response, New Zealand couldn’t take much to its advantage. On the other hand, India came out well in the game’s second innings, registering a total of 505 runs and Sachin remaining not out with a triple-digit score. Despite the short first innings from both sides, the game ended in a draw.

#5 Virat Kohli (IND) – 105 innings

A modern-day legend, Virat Kohli has an aggressive batting style and is known for his ability to dominate the opposition bowlers. He is particularly strong on the offside, and his cover drives are a treat to watch. He is also very good against pace bowling and has a solid technique to tackle a turning ball.

In 2017 India was playing Sri Lanka in the third match of the series, with Kohli having 19 centuries to his name. Winning the toss, India elected to bat first, and there couldn’t be a better situation than this for Virat to achieve the feat of 20 Test centuries. His pacy 243 that day made him the 5th fastest to reach the milestone number of tons.

#4 Steve Smith (AUS) – 99 innings

One of the most striking features of Steve Smith’s batting is his unorthodox style, which has often left bowlers scratching their heads. He is known for his ability to play unusual shots and improvise on the go, making him a challenging batsman to bowl to.

It was the fourth Test match of the 2017 edition of the Border-Gavaskar trophy series. Smith had 19 centuries in Test cricket by then. With Australia batting first and Matt Renshaw getting out early in the game, it was a perfect situation for Smith to notch up his 20th Test century, so he did by playing a knock of 111 runs. Note: Smith is so close to breaking Sachin’s record of most centuries in BGT history.

#3 Matthew Hayden (AUS) – 95 innings

One of the most notable aspects of Matthew Hayden’s batting was his ability to dominate bowlers, particularly spinners. He was a master at sweeping and hitting spinners over the infield. His towering stature allowed him to hit the ball with immense power and force. The former Australian opener was also known for his mental toughness and ability to perform under pressure, which helped him consistently score centuries.

Against Sri Lanka, the second Test match of the 2004-05 series, at the Bundaberg Rum Stadium, Cairns, must be one of the best memories for Matthew to cherish, when he scored his 20th Test century knock. He was enjoying great form, which was quite visible when he registered his 19th and 20th Test centuries in the same match. Hayden scored a well-composed knock of 117 runs in the first innings, and later in the second innings of the same game, he made an even more impact knock of 132 off just 169 balls.

#2 Sunil Gavaskar (IND) – 93 innings

Being known for great footwork, solid defence, and playing long innings, Sunil Gavaskar was particularly effective against the fast bowlers. He could also easily read spinners’ variations giving him that added advantage to play well, and score runs consistently.

Back in 1979, against England at their den, Sunil had stored a knock to remember for the people for ages. In the second innings of the match, the opener was in sublime touch, batting for over 400 balls and scoring a double century; 221 runs, to be precise, is just awesome. That was just his 93rd innings, and he already had 20 centuries to his name shows how great he had been.

#1 Don Bradman (AUS) – 55 innings

One of the great things about Sir Donald Bradman was his sheer consistency. Almost in every Test series he played, he added a century to his name. His name is synonymous with excellence and remains an inspiration to aspiring cricketers around the world.

Bradman’s feat of scoring 20 Test centuries in just 55 innings is still untouched, and he is the fastest player on earth to reach the 20 Test hundred milestone. He was also the first player to reach the magical figure of 20 Test centuries. The game was against Australia’s arch-rival England in the 2nd Test of the 1938 AUS vs ENG series. Having gone out cheap in the first innings, he made up for that by scoring a century in the second – an unbeaten knock of 102 runs off just 135 balls which also helped the Aussies draw the losing Test match.

Bonus: The list of players who are the fastest to 10 Test Centuries and 30 Test Centuries.

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