Eleven featherbed fixtures
This XI is the choice of Andrew Miller and Martin Williamson. Undoubtedly readers will have their own preferences. Email us with your nominations
India's debutant, Nilesh Kulkarni, must have thought he had Test cricket licked. Buoyed by his side's formidable total of 537 for 8 dec, he dismissed Marvan Atapattu with his very first ball, as Sri Lanka - for an instant - looked as though they might struggle. That, however, was before Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama had got into their stride. Their obscene second-wicket stand of 576 remains to this day the largest in the history of Test cricket, and as the fifth and final day dawned, the only question was whether Jayasuriya, 326 not out overnight, would go on to break Brian Lara's then-world record of 375. He didn't, but Aravinda de Silva weighed in with a century of his own, as Sri Lanka closed with an alternative world record - a vast total of 952 for 6.
Spare a thought for ... Rajesh Chauhan. Back in the reckoning after two years out of Test cricket, Chauhan was tonked for 276 runs in his 78 overs - the second-worst analysis of all time. At least he managed to claim the wicket of Jayasuriya.
West Indies v England, 4th Test, Kingston, 1929-30
Both sides agreed to a timeless Test if the series was in the balance, and they probably regretted it. After nine days - the last two of which were rained off - this game was abandoned as England had to go home. Batting first, England scored 849, with Andrew Sandham making a world-record 325 in his final Test, and then bowled West Indies out for 286. Rather than making them follow on with a lead of 653, England opted to bat again and set them a tougher ask of 836 to win. But a magnificent 223 from George Headley guided West Indies to 408 for 5 when the rain came. The 1815 runs produced remains a record for a Test.
Spare a thought for ... Tommy Scott, the West Indies googly bowler, who went for 374 runs, although he did take nine wickets. No bowler has conceded more in a Test. And what about England old timers George Gunn, who was 50, and 52-year-old Wilfred Rhodes.
Bengal v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy quarter-final, Calcutta, 1990-91
The Ranji Trophy has produced some daunting totals and dull stalemates over the years, but few matches have been more turgid than this affair where after five days the first innings had not even been completed. Karnataka batted the best part of three days in scoring 791 for 6 before finally declaring, only for Bengal to take two-and-a-bit days to make 652 for 9 themselves. It wasn't even as if the two teams got on. Bengal's batsmen were accused by Karnataka players of deliberately delaying play to try to get them penalised for a slow over-rate. Deliberate or not, it work as Bengal were awarded 60 penalty runs, enough to give them victory by virtue of averaging 3.26 run per over compared to Karnataka's 3.17.
Spare a thought for ... Bengal's Utpal Chatterjee, who took 0 for 160 off 65 overs and scored 5 when his turn came to bat. Karnataka's Anil Kumble was more expensive, conceding 215 runs, but at least he took two wickets and made an unbeaten 68.
The regulations again allowed for a timeless Test if the series was undecided, although it is worth noting that all Ashes Tests in Australia until the second World War were played to a finish anyway. On a pitch prepared by the legendary Oval groundsman Bosser Martin (who declared on the eve of the game that it would "last until Christmas") England ground out 903 for 7 with the 21-year-old Len Hutton making a tortuous but immensely popular 364, taking Don Bradman's world record in the process. By the time Australia came to reply they were without Jack Fingleton and, crucially, Bradman who had fractured a shin bone bowling on the third morning. Their nine batsmen, presumably exhausted and mentally broken, slipped to defeat by an innings and 579 runs. The call to end timeless Tests grew defeating once the euphoria dissipated.
Spare a thought for ... Chuck Fleetwood-Smith, whose 1 for 298 remain the most expensive Test figures. And he had Hutton missed off a stumping chance when he had made 40.
Surrey v Lancashire, County Championship, 1990
The summer of 1990 is recalled with a shudder by bowlers all across England. An improbably hot season, coupled with new regulations reducing the width of the seam, culminated in a run-fest like few others. The lack of contest between bat and ball was never better exemplified that at The Oval in early May, when Surrey's captain Ian Greig compiled a career-best 291 out of a total of 707 for 9 declared, only for Lancashire to respond with the small matter of 863. The backbone of their innings was provided by two young players destined for greater things - Michael Atherton (191) and Neil Fairbrother (366) - who added 364 for the third wicket. By the end of that round of Championship matches, no fewer than 41 first-class centuries had been scored in the first three weeks of the season.
Spare a thought for ... Grahame Clinton, who missed out on the festivities, not once, but twice, falling for 8 and 15 in his two innings. "Actually," he pleaded in mitigation, "it was harder not to score runs on that pitch."
South Africa v England, 5th Test, Durban, 1938-39
The final nail in the coffin of timeless Tests on a pitch which offered little help at any stage, but a local rule allowing the wicket to be repaired overnight meant , accordoing to the Cricketer, that each day started on what amounted to a brand new pitch. With no end in sight, both sides plodded along, and the eighth day was lost to rain. England were set a seemingly impossible 696 to win, but they were 654 for 5 at tea on the tenth day when rain started falling - and two of those wickets fell as the clouds darkened that afternoon. The captains went into a meeting and emerged to say that, as England had to catch the train to Cape Town that night to enable them to catch their homeward trip on the Athlone Castle, the game had to be ended with no result. South Africa's Ken Viljoen is said to have had his hair cut twice during the game! The aggregate of 1981 runs is a record, as is England's fourth innings score.
Spare a thought for ... Any number of people, but South Africa's Norman Gordon takes the biscuit - his 92.2 eight-ball overs produced 1 for 256 in the match. England's Doug Wright conceded more runs - 288 - but took five wickets and, unlike Gordon, it was not his final Test.
Australia retained the Ashes in a match so tedious that it moved Playfair Cricket Monthly to ask if the time had come to end such contests. Wisden, meanwhile, wrote that "a bad taste was left in the mouth of the cricket enthusiasts." The Daily Mail called it the "murder of Test cricket" while at one stage six journalists in the press box were seen to be sleeping. Sour grapes? Possibly, but pity the 108,000 who witnessed a game where the two first innings were not completed until five minutes before the end. Bobby Simpson, Australia's captain, made 311 - his first Test hundred in his 41st match - in a score of 656 for 8 while England replied with an equally mind-numbing 611.
Spare a thought for ... Australia's offspinner Tom Vievers, whose 95.1 overs was one ball shy of the most sent down in a Test. He was in good company. Six bowlers conceded 100 runs and another three finished in the 90s.
West Indies v India, 4th Test, Antigua, 2001-02
A horror story from start to interminable finish. Five centuries of underwhelming single-mindedness, a run-rate that never threatened to push three an over, significant and stultifying innings from two bit-part internationals, Wasim Jaffer and Ajay Ratra. With the series intriguingly poised at 1-1, the Antigua Recreation Ground and its landing-strip of a wicket was the last place that such a crucial encounter deserved to be held. While India were compiling 513 for 9 after being asked to bat first, they were setting themselves up for their first overseas series victory since 1986 - and their first in the Caribbean for 31 years. But Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ridley Jacobs preserved West Indian pride with a trio of hundreds, and instead India became the third Test team to give a bowl to all 11 of their players.
Spare a thought for ... Sachin Tendulkar, whose first-ball duck not only denied him his share of the spoils, but also compounded a horrific run of form - 0, 0, 8, 0 - that was the talk of an entire nation.
India v Pakistan, 4th Test, Madras, 1960-61
Between December 1960 and February 1961, one of the greatest series of all time took place, a contest that reinvigorated Test cricket and conferred legendary status on each of its participants. Sadly, for the faithful and under-rewarded few who turned out to watch India take on Pakistan, the series in question was Australia v West Indies, 5000 miles to the south-east. Instead, the subcontinent was subjected to a five-Test stalemate that plumbed such depths of ennui that the Pakistanis were unable to force a result in any one of their 15 first-class fixtures. It was, as Wisden noted, "an extremely dour affair", enlivened only by a fire during the Madras bore-draw that gutted the eastern section of the stands.
Spare a thought for ... Haseeb Ahsan, who wheeled away to the tune of 15 wickets for the series, including a grandly futile 6 for 202 from 84 overs at Madras.
Antigua has become such a no-contest of a venue it is only fair that it should be named and shamed twice. If India's visit in 2002 was pure distilled tedium, then South Africa's engagement three years later was a gluttonous surfeit of runs that produced a world-record eight individual centuries. The largest and most avaricious of these was compiled by Chris Gayle, who slapped merrily through the off-side for a career-best 317. Just over 12 months had passed since his team-mate Lara had posted 400 at the same venue, and until fatigue set in on the penultimate afternoon, Gayle was on course to better even that feat. A jumbo total of 747 was capped by a maiden Test hundred for Dwayne Bravo.
Spare a thought for ... Bravo, who suffered the indignity of becoming a first and only Test victim for Mark Boucher, who was brought on to bowl the 233rd over, and struck with his eighth ball.
Pakistan v India, 1st Test, Lahore, 2005-06
A pancake of a pitch, and an eyepopping assortment of batting onslaughts. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf provided a sedate start to the festivities with 199 and 173 respectively, before Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal flew off the handle in spectacular fashion. Afridi clobbered four sixes in a row off Harbhajan Singh in the course of a 27-run over and a 78-ball hundred; Akmal was scarcely any more sluggish, taking just 81 balls to reach his fourth international hundred of the month. A mighty total of 679 for 7 was just the basis for negotiation, however, as Virender Sehwag launched himself into the Pakistani bowling with Rahul Dravid providing steadfast support in a quadruple-century opening partnership.
Spare a thought for ... Salman Butt, run out by Yuvraj Singh for just six measly runs.