Cricket is undoubtedly a batsman’s game, and the sport’s rule favours the batters. The thing that adds beauty to Test match cricket is the patience and perseverance with which the batters play, especially in the initial phase of 1st day’s play. It is almost an unwritten rule in the game of cricket that the team batting first has to bat for an extended period and make the opposition bowlers toil hard so that it becomes doubly challenging for them to make a comeback.
But there are many instances where the side batting first takes much time out of the game, and the Test match ends in a high-scoring draw as the pitch does not offer much to the bowlers. On other occasions, the team batting 2nd makes a match out of the contest and proceeds to be a thriller, and a few other times, there would be no coming back for the side bowling first.
To know the list of lowest 1st innings scores in the format, check here.
Here we will sneak peek at 5 of the highest first innings totals of a Test match in its 135-year history.
#1 England – 903/7 vs Australia, 20th-24th August 1938, The Oval
It was the final Test match of the 1938 Ashes series, and Australia led the series 1-0 at the end of the 4th Test. England’s skipper Wally Hammond opted to bat first after winning the coin toss, and the English batters made merry on an excellent batting surface. On the back of a fantastic 364 from legendary Sir Leonard Hutton(a record that stood there for 20 years as the highest individual score in Tests) and centuries from Maurice Leyland(187) & Joe Hardstaff(169), the hosts reached a mammoth 903 after batting out for 335 overs. The Aussies could score only 201, and 123 from both the innings as their star batsman Sir Don Bradman didn’t come out to bat.
England won the game by an innings & 573 runs and levelled the series 1-1. 903 by England stood as a record until broken by Sri Lanka, who made 952/6 vs India at Colombo in 1997, but it came in the 2nd innings of the Test match.
#2 England – 840 vs West Indies, 3rd-12th April 1930, Kingston
It was an era where the final Test of the series was played as a Timeless Test, and this game lasted for 7 full days with rest days & rain-affected days in between. Batting first, England scored a whopping 849 runs on the board(the then highest total) thanks to a sensational 325 from Andy Sandham and 149 from Les Ames. West Indies fought well to save the Test in the 4th innings of the Test match after being set an improbable target of 836 runs.
They finished at 404/5 after batting out close to 169 overs, and the 4-match series was drawn 1-1.
#3 West Indies – 751/5 vs England, 10th-14th April 2004, St John’s
This Test match witnessed one of the historic moments in Test cricket. The then West Indies captain Brian Lara became the first and only batsman to breach 400 run mark in Tests. Lara overtook Matthew Hayden’s score of 380 to reach this astonishing milestone, and his record remains intact. Talking of the match, the West Indies made 751/5 and put immense pressure on England as they bowled them out for 285 in the 1st innings.
However, a stubborn knock of 140 England captain Michael Vaughan helped them salvage a draw in that inconsequential Test and win the 4-match series 3-0.
#4 Australia – 735/6 vs Zimbabwe, 9th-13th October 2003, Perth
Zimbabwe’s last Test tour of Australia was significant in Test cricket. In the first Test at Perth, Matthew Hayden made a scintillating 380 surpassing Brian Lara’s 9-year standing record of 375 to be the highest individual run-scorer in Test match cricket as Australia made 735/6 in the process. However, Lara overtook the tally a year later.
Though the mighty Aussies won the game by an innings & 175 runs, Zimbabwe put up a brave fight, scoring 239 & 321 in their batting effort. Unfortunately, Zimbabwe lost the series 2-0, and this was their last Test tour down under.
#5 Pakistan – 708 vs England, 6th-11th August 1987, The Oval
Pakistan had a historic tour of England in 1987/88, and this game was another example. Going into the 5th Test at The Oval 1-0 up, Pakistan opted to bat first and piled up a massive score on the board. They accumulated 708 runs thanks to a stunning 260 from Javed Miandad and because of centuries from Saleem Malik(102) & skipper Imran Khan(119).
The visitors batted for 220 overs and took the game away from England, who just about saved the Test after being enforced to follow on by Pakistan. The match ended in a draw, and Pakistan went on to win the series 1-0.
Also Read: Highest 4th Innings Chases in Test Cricket