Test cricket is the ultimate format of this wonderful sport known as cricket, and there is a reason for it. Playing Tests requires a lot of mental toughness and skills, which is why it is called the ultimate format of the game.
Two teams who can stand toe to toe in Tests will give the audience and cricket fans across the globe one of the best experiences one can ever get in any sport. This is because Test cricket is played across 5 days, and the match can swing in multiple ways.
A team can be at the top of the game at one point in time in a Test, and the other team can snatch home the advantage if the former is not capitalizing on their position. So there are more ebbs and flows in a Test match compared to other formats of the game.
So this is why rivalry in Tests is important and no wonder why the games featuring the top Test sides are highly celebrated despite the fact that Test cricket is a slow-moving format among the 3.
Series like the Ashes and Tests featuring sides like India, New Zealand, South Africa, and Pakistan become some of the most widely watched contests across the world. This is because of the high-quality and unadulterated form of cricket that these sides offer over the course of 5 days of a Test match.
T20Is are widely played nowadays because of the marketability aspect of the sport but, Test cricket remains the pinnacle for traditional cricket lovers. In this article, we will discuss some of the highly celebrated Test cricket rivalries between nations.
This is to commemorate the 100th Test match between two of the traditional powerhouses of Test cricket, India and the West Indies, that is currently taking place at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, which is considered an iconic venue in the Caribbean Islands.
So the second Test of India’s tour of the West Indies marks the 100th time that these sides have met in the longest format of the game. We will look into that in detail, along with a listing of teams that have played 100 or more Tests among one another.
India and West Indies
This is the latest addition to the 100-Test club between 2 countries, and these are two of the highly decorated sides in the history of cricket.
Both India and the West Indies have won all the major trophies in the shortest formats (ICC Cricket World Cup, T20 World Cup, and the ICC Champions Trophy) at least once. They have attained the top side status in Test cricket on many occasions.
These sides first met in Test cricket in 1948, when the West Indies team toured India for a 5-match Test series and the visitors won the series 1-0. Since then, there have been many bilateral series between the sides.
Head to Head: 100* Test matches, West Indies won – 30, India won – 23, Draw – 46
* – indicates the 100th match is still going on at Queen’s Park Oval.
Australia and England
Arguably the most famous rivalry in the history of Test cricket simply by the number of followers for this game. Commonly called the “Ashes“, it is certainly one of the major cricketing events taking place, like the World Cup.
Their rivalry is pretty much the starting point of Test cricket, as the first game in Tests was played between them on March 15th, 1877, at the iconic MCG, and the sides are currently playing their 360th match at Old Trafford in Manchester.
These games historically have had the highest attendance ever for a Test match, which is why we can’t go beyond the Ashes when we talk about Test cricket and the famous rivalries.
Head to Head: 360* Test matches, Australia won – 152, England won – 111, Draw – 96
* – indicates the match is still going on at Old Trafford
Australia and South Africa
Australia and South Africa’s Test rivalry dates back to the start of the 20th century, as they both met in a Test match for the first time in the 1902 series taking place in South Africa.
The inaugural match took place at the Old Wanderers Stadium, and since then, the teams have played 100 more Test matches with each other. The 100th Test game happened in the 2022-23 Boxing Day Test match at the iconic MCG recently, with the host coming out on top.
Though the initial games were mostly in favor of the Aussies, the Proteas can stake a claim to being one of the rare sides that could win the Test series in Australia on more than one occasion. This makes the series one of the most sought-after rivalries in the history of world cricket.
Head to Head: 101 Test matches, Australia won – 54, South Africa won – 26, Draw – 21
England and South Africa
Yet another long-standing rivalry taking place since the 19th century and going strong with great competitive matches is the one between England and South Africa.
The giants of cricket first played Test cricket in 1889, when England visited the African country for a 2-match series. England won the series and 6 more Test matches that followed, making the initial head-to-heads a bit one-sided.
But over the course of the next century and beyond, South Africa became a side to be reckoned with and won many series both home and away against England.
Head to Head: 156 Test matches, England won – 66, South Africa won – 35, Draw – 55
New Zealand and England
New Zealand became the 5th side to attain Test status in 1930, and their first game was against their traditional cricket rivals, England. It is New Zealand’s only 100-Test club entry, and these sides have played 112 Tests, the latest held earlier this year.
It has been a largely one-sided affair thus far, with England winning close to 50% of the Tests, but New Zealand has started to win on a regular basis in recent years.
Head to Head: 112 Test matches, England won – 52, New Zealand won – 12, Draw – 47
West Indies and England
England and the West Indies share a rich Test cricket history with one another, and it dates from the West Indies tour of England in the 1928 series.
The visitors were blanked 3-0 in as many Test matches, but we have to say it these sides gave rise to some of the most tightly contested Tests ever. Their head-to-head gives a clear understanding of how things have gone about.
There have been 163 games played between these two amazing and entertaining Test-playing nations, which is second only to the Ashes in terms of the number of games played.
Head to Head: 163 Test matches, West Indies won – 59, England won – 51, Draw – 53
West Indies and Australia
If there was a side that could ever match the supremacy of Australia in Test cricket, it has to be the West Indies, albeit not for a longer time.
But this consistency of the West Indies, especially in the mid to late-20th century, was where the Calypso Kings were a formidable unit in cricket. There have been many cracking Test matches played between the West Indies and Australia since the sides first met at Adelaide Oval in 1930.
The recent trend is pretty much one-sided, as the West Indies have never beaten the Aussies in a Test since the 2003 game at Antigua, but their incredible rivalry before that can never be understated. One of the 2 Tied Tests in the longest format history happened between them in Brisbane in 1960.
Head to Head: 118 Test matches, Australia won – 60, West Indies won – 32, Tied -1, Draw – 25
India and England
India gained Test status in 1934, and expectedly, their first match was against England at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground.
After that, the teams have played in 130 more Test matches to date. Their rivalry has seen fairly close competition over the years as each has trounced the other in their home venues and tends to struggle when travelling.
Head to Head: 131 Test matches, England won – 50, India won – 31, Draw – 50
India and Australia
These giants of Test cricket were one of the recent entries into this list of cricketing nations to have featured in 100 Tests between each other.
Australia had been a powerhouse of a Test team and gained a stronghold over every Test team in the history of cricket, including India. But if the recent years are anything to go by, India has managed to catch up with Australia and has narrowed the gap, at least till now.
Coincidentally, the second Tied match happened between these 2 sides in a 1986 game at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. This happens to be the last Tied Test to date.
Head to Head: 107 Test matches, Australia won – 45, West Indies won – 32, Tied -1, Draw – 29
These are the nine 100 Test combinations that we have thus far, and a potential 10th entrant could be coming in the famous Pakistan-England rivalry. They have played 89 Tests against one another, and in a few more years, we can see a 100th Test happening between them.
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An avid Cricket follower who likes to write on the gentleman’s game