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April 12, 2004
The highest individual score in Test cricket - batting's blue-riband record - has only changed hands ten times since the first Test of all, 127 years ago in 1876-77. Here's how the bar has been raised:
165* - Charles Bannerman
Australia v England, Melbourne, 1876-77
Neatly, the man who scored the first run in Test cricket extended his innings to 165 before being forced to retire hurt with a hand injury. Charles Bannerman, 25, dominated Australia's innings in this inaugural Test, scoring 67.3% of his side's total - still a Test record for a completed innings.
211 - Billy Murdoch
Australia v England, The Oval, 1884
Bannerman's record lasted seven and a half years, until Billy Murdoch hit Test cricket's first double-century, in a huge Australian total of 551. But England hung on for a draw in what was only a three-day match. Murdoch, who later played a Test for England too, was 29, and Australia's captain, at the time.
287 - Tip Foster
England v Australia, Sydney, 1903-04
Reginald Erskine "Tip" Foster, the only man to captain England at cricket and football, marked his Test debut with an amazing innings. It remains the highest score by a player in his first Test, and is still England's highest in Australia. Foster, 25, put on 130 for the tenth wicket with Wilfred Rhodes (40*) as England posted a matchwinning total of 577.
325 - Andy Sandham
England v West Indies, Kingston, 1929-30
Playing in what turned out to be his last Test, three months short of his 40th birthday, Surrey's Andy Sandham scored 325 as England ran up 849 in a supposedly timeless Test - ironically, though, the match was left drawn when the England team had to catch the boat home. Despite a first-innings lead of 563, the England captain, Freddie Gough-Calthorpe, didn't enforce the follow-on: his eventual declaration left West Indies just 836 to win. They made 408 for 5 ...
334 - Don Bradman
Australia v England, Headingley, 1930
Three months later the record changed hands again, and to no-one's great surprise it was Australia's "Boy Wonder" who broke it. Don Bradman was only 21, and in the middle of a record-breaking tour of England in which he made those who had doubted his ability to score runs on English pitches eat their words. He scored 974 runs in the Tests - still a record - 309 of them on the first day at Headingley.
336* - Wally Hammond
England v New Zealand, Auckland, 1932-33
Hammond, second only to Bradman as a batsman at the time, eclipsed The Don's record with a murderous innings against a weak New Zealand side in 1932-33. Hammond, 29, smashed ten sixes and 34 fours, and his 300 came up in 288 minutes, still Test cricket's fastest in terms of time. Since Hammond had made 227 in the first of the two Tests that followed the acrimonious Bodyline tour of Australia, he finished with a series average of 563.
364 - Len Hutton
England v Australia, The Oval, 1938
Hutton, 22, took advantage of a benign pitch and a toothless Australian attack to beat the record in what had become, with the series undecided, a timeless Test. Hutton hit 35 fours in what was England's 100th century against Australia, and their eventual 903 for 7 remains the highest in Ashes Tests. Hammond, by then England's captain, apparently didn't declare until he was assured that Bradman, who had injured his leg while having a rare bowl, wouldn't be able to bat.
365* - Garry Sobers
West Indies v Pakistan, Kingston, 1957-58
Sobers had played some promising cameos before he extended his maiden Test century past 300 to come of age as international cricketer (well, he was 21 at the time). He hit 38 fours, and piled on 446 for the second wicket with Conrad Hunte (260) as West Indies took advantage of a depleted Pakistan attack - one opening bowler pulled a thigh muscle in his first over, and another fractured his thumb - to set a record that lasted for 36 years.
375 - Brian Lara
West Indies v England, St John's, 1993-94
Sobers was there to see his record go, in Antigua in 1994. Lara, 24, batted for 768 minutes and hit 45 fours, and very nearly trod on his stumps in hitting the boundary that took him past Sobers's old mark. A few weeks later Lara, in the form of his life, completed the double by breaking the first-class record as well, with an innings of 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham.
380 - Matthew Hayden
Australia v Zimbabwe, Perth, 2003-04
A perfect pitch, and a friendly attack in which all five bowlers used eventually leaked more than 100 runs, added up to the ideal recipe for Matthew Hayden, the solidly built left-hander, to annexe the record. Hayden, 32, bludgeoned 11 sixes and 38 fours as the Zimbabwe bowlers wilted (slow left-armer Ray Price, who did well in the next Test, had figures of 0 for 187).
400* - Brian Lara
West Indies v England, St John's, 2003-04
Ten years after his 375, Lara returned to Antigua. The circumstances were different: West Indies had been walloped 3-0, and Lara himself, by now 34 and captain, was under intense pressure to avert an unthinkable whitewash. And Lara, with barely a false stroke, became the first man to regain the top spot, hitting 43 fours and four sixes as he reclaimed the record - and West Indian pride - on his way to the first Test quadruple-century.
Steven Lynch is editor of Wisden Cricinfo.
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