November 25, 2009

The vincible and the untouchable

Records that are vulnerable to the passage of time, and those that are safe forever
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The gods of sport always did have a way reaching out to us from beyond the grave. Last Thursday, on the very day he was formally, albeit posthumously, inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame, one of Sir Donald Bradman's most durable peaks finally fell, when Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene overhauled the 73-year-old Test record sixth-wicket partnership The Don set in consort with Jack Fingleton in the third 1936-37 Ashes Test against England at the MCG. Thus, almost without a murmur, was the international game's most venerable record alliance toppled.

Personally speaking, beyond the requisite sense of awe, the impact of the Jayawardenes' liaison was immediate and practical. For the past five years, my first-year sports journalism students at the University of Brighton have been force-fed everything there was to know about that Bradman-Fingleton stand, presaged as that particular feat of derring-do was by one of the rare instances of a Test captain reversing his batting order (the West Indies' Jackie Grant pulled a similar stroke in Bridgetown in 1935). Thus did the students discover that the term "sticky wicket" actually carries a literal as well as a metaphorical meaning - Bradman's enterprising decision, after all, was prompted by the treacherous vagaries of that Melbourne pitch. A correction was winging its way into the students' inboxes before noon.

That same day, stunningly enough, brought news of another fresh peak, this time from New Zealand, where Peter McGlashan, the Northern Districts wicketkeeper, beat the record for most catches in a first-class fixture with 12, usurping the mark set by Surrey's Arnold Long 45 years ago and subsequently equalled no fewer than a dozen times.

Not unnaturally, the expiration of these records set me thinking. Which long-lived landmarks are the least vulnerable to the passing of time? And which are the most susceptible? Let's begin with the latter:

1) Arthur Fagg's twin double-centuries (71 years)
At Colchester in 1938, the Kent opener, who would umpire more than three times as many Tests as he would bat in (18 to five), dominated the visitors' first innings to such a voracious extent that he accounted for 244 of their 429 runs. Having ensured a lead of 79, he then went out and piled on a further 202 not out in just 170 minutes, becoming the only man in first-class annals ever to rack up a double ton in each innings. Given that first-class fixtures, for all their increasing scarcity, now tend to encompass four days, and such is the helter-skelter rate of modern scoring, it is far from inconceivable that Phil Hughes, to cite but the most obvious candidate, will match Fagg before he is done.

2) Oscar Scott: most runs conceded in a Test (79 years)
In Kingston in 1930, England ransacked the hapless West Indies wrist-spinner for 374 runs - 266 in the first innings, 108 in the second. Against India last winter, however, Jason Krejza, took 12 wickets on debut but came within 17 runs of annexing arguably the least desirable Test bowling record of all. Given that there have been five other instances of a bowler yielding 268-plus over the past 15 years (Anil Kumble did so twice), who can say how much longer Scott's nadir will stand?

3) Jack Gregory: most catches by an outfielder in a Test series (88 years)
Gregory's mark of 15 has stood since the 1920-21 Ashes encounter, since when Greg Chappell (14 in the 1974-75 Ashes) has come closest, with Bobby Simpson (twice), Brian Lara (twice) and Rahul Dravid all managing 13. You might have thought, with the gradual erosion of the five-Test series, that Gregory was pretty safe. Since the start of 1997, nevertheless, there have been 19 instances of a fielder taking 10 catches or more, including seven in a four-match series, two in three-Test rubbers, and one, by Stephen Fleming, in a two-matcher. Do hold your breath.

Over the past dozen years no fewer than 18 first-up totals of 400-plus have led to defeat, and nine in excess of 440, headed by Australia's 556 against India at Adelaide in 2003-04. Yesterday's surefire insurance is today's opening gambit

4) Bill Ponsford: first-class centuries in most consecutive matches (83 years)
Bradman's erstwhile sparring partner notched a hundred in 10 successive first-class matches in 1926-27, three more than Bradman himself managed in 1931-32 and Ernest Tyldesley did in 1926. The best such streak since has been six, by David Boon (on the 1993 Ashes tour), Lara (1993-94) and Jacques Kallis (2003-04), but with time running out on the most prolific first-class career of the modern era, who would bet against Mark Ramprakash trumping Ponny? Given that he set the extant record for most consecutive first-class scores of 150-plus, with five in 2006, certainly not me.

5) Australia: highest first-innings Test total in a losing cause (115 years)
The only significant record to survive an entire century - Australia totted up 586 but still fell prey to the first of only three instances of a side enforcing the follow-on and losing. Over the past dozen years, however, no fewer than 18 first-up totals of 400-plus have led to defeat, and nine in excess of 440, headed by Australia's 556 against India at Adelaide in 2003-04. Yesterday's surefire insurance is today's opening gambit.

NOW FOR THE UNTOUCHABLES. Yes, there are some venerable invulnerable ancients, such as the lowest first-class total, 6 (by The Bs - yes, every member of the side's surname began with the second letter of the alphabet - against All England at Lord's in 1810), a shameful milestone rendered all the more astonishing when one considers that the only sub-16 score since 1922 remains Surrey's pathetic 14 against Essex in a mad final hour at Chelmsford in 1983. Furthermore, the odds against a 30-year career are now so prohibitive that Wilfred Rhodes' 4204 first-class wickets (the next-best by anybody who has played since the start of the 1960s is Derek Shackleton's 2857) and Jack Hobbs' 199 first-class centuries (Ramprakash is the leading active player, with 108, and it is quite likely nobody will ever broach three figures again) and 61,760 first-class runs (nobody since Walter Hammond has aggregated 50,000) are all assault-proof. Opportunity, crucially, no longer knocks with quite the same insistence.

One-offs, conversely, may be more trumpable than suspected. Take Hedley Verity's freakish 10 for 10 for Yorkshire against Nottinghamshire in 1932. It may have endured for 77 summers, yet as recently as 1995-96, Naeem Akhtar took 10 for 28 for Rawalpindi B against Peshawar.

The following, nevertheless, are the five landmarks - in no specific order - that seem set to defy all challenges:

1) Donald Bradman: highest Test average (61 years)
Sport's most famous four-figure number - 99.94 - remains more than half as impressive again as the next best. Not even Usain Bolt can claim to be that superior. Every bit as staggeringly breathtaking today as it was in 1948. That first-class average of 95.14 (nobody else has contrived a mean of 72) isn't too shabby either.

2) Jim Laker: most wickets in a match (53 years)
Nineteen wickets. In a Test to boot. Nobody else in first-class history has ever taken 18 - unless, that is, one counts Henry Arkwright, who recorded 18-96 for Gentlemen of MCC v Gentlemen of Kent in a 12-a-side match in 1861, and Frederick Lilywhite, about whose feat for the Players against the 16-man Gents at Lord's in 1837 not even the number of runs conceded is known. Since that magical week at Old Trafford in 1956, moreover, only John Davison, for Canada against the USA in 2004, has reaped 17. It's a toss-up as to whether 99.94 or 19 for 90 is the most fabulous figure in cricket annals - what is it about the number nine? Maybe The Beatles had something?

3) Arthur Sims and Victor Trumper: highest eighth-wicket stand (95 years)
At Lancaster Park, Christchurch, on the last day of February, 1914, Victor Trumper, batting at a lowly No. 9 in the Australians' order, came in to join Arthur Sims with the tourists having struggled to 209 for 7 in response to Canterbury's 92 all out. By the time Trumper was caught for 293, the eighth-wicket pair had added 433 in a shade over three hours of controlled mayhem. Only one partnership for the eighth wicket has ever come within 140 runs of that seemingly impregnable zenith: 313 by Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq for Pakistan against Zimbabwe in 1996-97.

4) Don Bradman: most first-class double-centuries (61 years)
Again, scoring rates may possibly render this vincible, but concentration spans will probably ensure it isn't. Consider this: behind Bradman's 37 stands Hammond, with 36, but Patsy Hendren (22) is the only other batsman to have managed more than 17. Of the moderns, Graeme Hick (16) and Ramprakash (15) stand tallest.

5) SF Barnes: most wickets in a Test series (96 years)
Opportunity has something to do with it, yes. Of the eight instances of a bowler taking 40 or more wickets in a single rubber, all bar one have required at least five Tests, and four needed six. The remarkable exception, though, is Barnes, whose 49 South African scalps at 10.93 apiece in 1913-14 encompassed just four matches. The tragedy with Barnes is that there is no footage of him at his awesome, unprecedented peak. For once, we simply have to take genius on trust.

As an addendum, it is also worth noting that we will soon have a new trio of records to gawp at. Ricky Ponting and/or Sachin Tendulkar will hoist the bar for Test centuries and runs to unthinkable heights; Muttiah Muralitharan will do likewise for the number of Test wickets. These will be the new Untouchables. Given that Test matches appear destined to become a dying breed, their reign may last for centuries.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TMS8137 on December 23, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    I have a question if batsman of the modern day are so good, what with modern equipment, protection and smaller boundaries, shouldnt grest modern bowlers be the best of all time so that they are able to tackle batsmen with all these advantages. going by this dale steyn with an average of 22 or so and a strike rate in the 40's and muttiah muralitharan should be the greatest bowlers of all time.

  • santhoshkudva on December 14, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    how about the records held by warne, ponting and mcgrath? featuring in 90+ test victories?

  • santhoshkudva on December 14, 2009, 16:54 GMT

    i think some records have stood unbroken only BY CHANCE. for example laker's 19, verity's 10-10, reggie foster debut knock, and surrey's collapse. they could be broken any day. however, records held by the great hobbs, bradman, barnes etc will take some beating, since it demands consistency over a length of time. A sehwag in good form can break lara's 501 playing for delhi against tripura, but i doubt if he can ever surpass the don's tally of 37 double hundreds. considering the fact that a batsman in the form of his lifetime can manage to score at best 2000 runs in a season, i shudder to think how long would it take him to emulate jack hobbs' 61,000 runs. also, i wont be surprised if the indian team makes up its mind and goes on to break victoria's 1107 given another brabourne wicket and a bangladesh attack. wilfred rhodes, so you think he is known for his first class wickets alone? have a look at the runs he scored as well!

  • Willowman on December 12, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    All the Test highest partnership per wicket records have gone (or been equalled) in the last 15 years, except those for the 5th (405, SG Barnes & DG Bradman, Australia, v England,Sydney, 13 Dec 1946) and 7th (347, DS Atkinson & CC Depeiaza, West Indies v Australia,Bridgetown,14 May 1955) wickets. Only 1 partnership has got within 100 of the latter in the last 50 years, and that only just, so logically you'd think the 5th-wicket record would be the next of these two to go. With one-off records, though, you can never be sure.

  • Vishrant on December 11, 2009, 2:31 GMT

    @amigobyc if you really are comparing how Don Bradman would have fared with all the padding and the helmets and the bats, then take into consideration the quality of bowlers in those times compared to now. Don Bradman remains to this day, and will forever remain a legend in the history of Cricket, but it is not fair to compare the two eras. Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara are the batting legends in this era, and no one can deny that, but with the padding, the helmets and the bats they have, its to face bowlers like wasim akram, glen mcgrath, walsh, ambrose.... these bowlers along with Murali and Shane Warne were not around in the Bradman days.....

  • Maroof23 on December 6, 2009, 12:00 GMT

    What about Brian Lara's record of being the only batsman to score a century, a double, triple, quadruple and a quintuple hundreds? I don't see anyone matching that record anytime soon. Even the 400 in itself is very invincible!

  • amigobyc on December 3, 2009, 21:38 GMT

    In trying to define/explain records, many vital factors are missed. For example, if Sir Don Bradman had these modern bats, imagine how much more he would have accomplished. To me - he is the really "UNTOUCHABLE" one of all. And what about no helmet and no modern padding and all the gear the guys have today. I doubt we will ever see another Sir Don. Thank you Australia. Webby.

  • digital_storm on December 2, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    Talking of records difficult to break, try this: fastest triple century in test cricket by Sehwag in 278 balls.

    A hundred at more than run a ball is not easy in test cricket. A double century more so. But a triple? Triple centuries are not scored that often in the first place. Its happened 23 times and only once at more than run a ball.

    History has thrown up limited overs batsmen who have made runs at an amazing rate but these are not as rare a breed as Sehwag, the man whose test strike rate is 80 to go along with the average of 50. And I am sure if one were to look at his test strike rate since the last couple of years, it would be close to 100. And the fact that he does this as an opener, in India or overseas, makes him a once in history test cricketer.

  • beverage on November 29, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    Highest first class team score, victoria vs 1,107 in the '26/27 season, it's been there a long time and hasn't really been troubled.

  • Pelham_Barton on November 29, 2009, 14:07 GMT

    @waspsting: Mark Taylor scored 839 runs in the 6 Test series in England in 1989, but this was not his debut series: he scored 67 runs in 2 Tests against the West Indies in the previous Australian season.

  • TMS8137 on December 23, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    I have a question if batsman of the modern day are so good, what with modern equipment, protection and smaller boundaries, shouldnt grest modern bowlers be the best of all time so that they are able to tackle batsmen with all these advantages. going by this dale steyn with an average of 22 or so and a strike rate in the 40's and muttiah muralitharan should be the greatest bowlers of all time.

  • santhoshkudva on December 14, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    how about the records held by warne, ponting and mcgrath? featuring in 90+ test victories?

  • santhoshkudva on December 14, 2009, 16:54 GMT

    i think some records have stood unbroken only BY CHANCE. for example laker's 19, verity's 10-10, reggie foster debut knock, and surrey's collapse. they could be broken any day. however, records held by the great hobbs, bradman, barnes etc will take some beating, since it demands consistency over a length of time. A sehwag in good form can break lara's 501 playing for delhi against tripura, but i doubt if he can ever surpass the don's tally of 37 double hundreds. considering the fact that a batsman in the form of his lifetime can manage to score at best 2000 runs in a season, i shudder to think how long would it take him to emulate jack hobbs' 61,000 runs. also, i wont be surprised if the indian team makes up its mind and goes on to break victoria's 1107 given another brabourne wicket and a bangladesh attack. wilfred rhodes, so you think he is known for his first class wickets alone? have a look at the runs he scored as well!

  • Willowman on December 12, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    All the Test highest partnership per wicket records have gone (or been equalled) in the last 15 years, except those for the 5th (405, SG Barnes & DG Bradman, Australia, v England,Sydney, 13 Dec 1946) and 7th (347, DS Atkinson & CC Depeiaza, West Indies v Australia,Bridgetown,14 May 1955) wickets. Only 1 partnership has got within 100 of the latter in the last 50 years, and that only just, so logically you'd think the 5th-wicket record would be the next of these two to go. With one-off records, though, you can never be sure.

  • Vishrant on December 11, 2009, 2:31 GMT

    @amigobyc if you really are comparing how Don Bradman would have fared with all the padding and the helmets and the bats, then take into consideration the quality of bowlers in those times compared to now. Don Bradman remains to this day, and will forever remain a legend in the history of Cricket, but it is not fair to compare the two eras. Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara are the batting legends in this era, and no one can deny that, but with the padding, the helmets and the bats they have, its to face bowlers like wasim akram, glen mcgrath, walsh, ambrose.... these bowlers along with Murali and Shane Warne were not around in the Bradman days.....

  • Maroof23 on December 6, 2009, 12:00 GMT

    What about Brian Lara's record of being the only batsman to score a century, a double, triple, quadruple and a quintuple hundreds? I don't see anyone matching that record anytime soon. Even the 400 in itself is very invincible!

  • amigobyc on December 3, 2009, 21:38 GMT

    In trying to define/explain records, many vital factors are missed. For example, if Sir Don Bradman had these modern bats, imagine how much more he would have accomplished. To me - he is the really "UNTOUCHABLE" one of all. And what about no helmet and no modern padding and all the gear the guys have today. I doubt we will ever see another Sir Don. Thank you Australia. Webby.

  • digital_storm on December 2, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    Talking of records difficult to break, try this: fastest triple century in test cricket by Sehwag in 278 balls.

    A hundred at more than run a ball is not easy in test cricket. A double century more so. But a triple? Triple centuries are not scored that often in the first place. Its happened 23 times and only once at more than run a ball.

    History has thrown up limited overs batsmen who have made runs at an amazing rate but these are not as rare a breed as Sehwag, the man whose test strike rate is 80 to go along with the average of 50. And I am sure if one were to look at his test strike rate since the last couple of years, it would be close to 100. And the fact that he does this as an opener, in India or overseas, makes him a once in history test cricketer.

  • beverage on November 29, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    Highest first class team score, victoria vs 1,107 in the '26/27 season, it's been there a long time and hasn't really been troubled.

  • Pelham_Barton on November 29, 2009, 14:07 GMT

    @waspsting: Mark Taylor scored 839 runs in the 6 Test series in England in 1989, but this was not his debut series: he scored 67 runs in 2 Tests against the West Indies in the previous Australian season.

  • waspsting on November 27, 2009, 16:34 GMT

    @Souvik_Mukherjee - I believe Mark Taylor crossed Gavaskar's record for most runs in a debut series. Could be wrong - not sure if it was his debut series or not.

  • Engle on November 27, 2009, 15:03 GMT

    The greatest difference between a Test players Highest Score and Next Highest Score is held by RE 'Tip' Foster with a difference of 236 runs (HS 287- NHS 51). A record that has stood for 102 years.

  • Pelham_Barton on November 27, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    To Souvik_Mukherjee: England's record total in Test cricket was "only" 903-7d not 963-7d (looks like a case of bad handwriting at some point). The record went in 1997 when Sri Lanka scored 952-6d against India at the Premadasa Stadium. England won their match by an innings and lots with Don Bradman and regular opening batsman Jack Fingleton absent hurt in both Australian innings. Bradman injured himself while bowling: it is credibly reported that Walter Hammond sought a definite assurance that Bradman would be unable to bat in the (timeless) match before he declared.

  • Podders on November 27, 2009, 9:41 GMT

    Thanks for many interesting records from various correspondents. For an all-round performance in a Test it would take a mighty effort to exceed MH Mankad's five 'days at the office' at Lord's in 1952: 72 out of 235; 73 overs to take 5/196; opened again and scored 184 out of 378; and finally bowled 24 [0/35] of the 49.2 overs it took England to secure victory by 8 wickets. That's 256 runs [out of 613 = 41.8%] and 97 overs [out of 256 bowled = 37.9%]. ... oh, and he was 35 yrs old when he achieved all this ... and therefore 39 when he put on 413 for the 1st wicket with P.Roy against NZ. Perhaps another record there that won't be beaten? Mankad probably wasn't pink and furry, but he would surely be a credible advertising agent for any long-life battery.

  • pompomhart on November 27, 2009, 8:32 GMT

    Some records are unbreakable because of the altered pattern of the English season - it's inconceivable that 'Tich' Freeman's record of wicket-taking between the wars will ever be approached, averaging more than 200 wickets per season over a period of 8 years, several times exceeding 250 wickets, and once passing 300, in a single season. pompomhart

  • RoshanF on November 27, 2009, 3:54 GMT

    redneck, if you took off the wickets against the minnows for Murali then you have to take off the tests he played against them as well. And had he got to play against the more sterner opposition in lieu of those tests he would have anyway have finished ahead of Warne. Oh by the Murali played far fewer tests to pass Warne's record. And as for the stupidity you have brought about his action, well he was born with a bent arm. And if have any notion of world sport beyond the much smaller world of cricket you would have got to know of a certain Garrincha, a Brazilian football marvel if ever there was one. He was born with 'bent' or bowed legs and any real football afficionado knows how that deformity helped him dribble defences to death. So with Murali. Grow up redneck - the ICC has accepted his legitimacy.

  • Burgeo74 on November 27, 2009, 3:15 GMT

    I think the jist of the story was about long standing records that were unatainable. Records set in recent forms of the game hardly justify as long standing. Also I think debut records are always a chance to be beaten at any time by the next big thing in cricket or even a player picked on debut who is in stunning form coming in against a lowly ranked test playing nation.

  • Souvik_Mukherjee on November 27, 2009, 1:54 GMT

    to add to the list of untouchables : Gavaskar's debut aggregate of 774. One that ought to fall in the current india sri lanka featherbed series : england's 963 for 7.

  • andrew-schulz on November 27, 2009, 0:55 GMT

    As an untouchable, I'd submit Ian and Greg Chappell's 4 centuries in the match at Wellington in March 1994, including a double century from Greg. The second innings was pretty meaningless, but that's not the point. I'd also mention that Australia's loss after scoring 586 was in a timeless Test. You seem to think that is vulnerable, but it simply will not happen in a five-day Test. Singhe, your comment is out of line- Test cricket will not dwindle.

  • Robski on November 26, 2009, 18:55 GMT

    Since I was asked to comment with reference to Azhar's three centuries in his first three Tests, I can only say that, as I hoped was clear from what I wrote (and the contents of the brackets that followed each entry), I was focusing on LONGSTANDING records.

  • amitrathivamnicom on November 26, 2009, 17:14 GMT

    there r hell of other records which didn't appeared n this list, so no use pointing onto them.and there is no denying d fact that the list do features d most impregnable records..........and 4 all those friends of mine who pointed to the toughest record to break in odi cricket, let me tell them dat this list features only test cricket records............

  • Engle on November 26, 2009, 15:15 GMT

    Most hattricks in a Test, TJ Matthews Aus vs SA 1912 got 6 wkts, all as a result of hattricks in each innings. Untouchable. Harbhajan Singh (32 wkts) taking over 3 times as many wickets as the next best bowler of his side (3 wkts) in a series vs Aus 2001 is a record that will not be surpassed anytime soon.

    Asif Iqbal (147 runs) scoring over half of the team innings (255 runs) batting at the lowest (#9) position vs Eng 1967 may be touchable, although that would mean a batsman batting at the #10 position scoring half the team runs. Not likely.

  • capitalH on November 26, 2009, 14:55 GMT

    The oldest and most vincible record of all time, the oldest "breakable" record (i.e. excluding all "first" records):

    Highest percentage of runs in a completed innings (from http://stats1.cricket.org/ci/content/records/283999.html)

    Bannerman with 67.34%. People came close (closest was Slater with 66.84%) but it stood since 1877 (132 years), Test 1!

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on November 26, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Only one batsman has hit Test Double Centuries in 5 different countries. With 4 in The Caribbean, 2 in Australia and 1 each in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. He also has 9 centuries against Australia, second to Sir Jack Hobbs 12 and includes 3 double centuries against The Aussies, second to Wally Hammond`s 4. Mr. Brian Charles Lara, the best left hander ever, the most attractive strokemaker ever and the best player against Spin Bowling ever!

  • mikeindex on November 26, 2009, 13:20 GMT

    One List A record that can never possibly be broken, and seems extremely unlikely ever to be equalled in any form of limited-over cricket: Brian Langford bowling his complete allotted spell (eight overs) for no runs, for Somerset against Essex in the Old John Player League in 1969.

  • Pelham_Barton on November 26, 2009, 12:37 GMT

    Further response to redneck on the matter of SF Barnes' 49 wickets:

    You need to consider the essential difference between batting and bowling records when it comes to large numbers of runs/wickets in a match/series. A batsman can only score a large number of runs if other players stay in with him, but a bowler can only take a large number of wickets if the other bowlers do not. While Jim Laker's 19 for 90 at Old Trafford was remarkable in one way, Tony Lock's failure to take a wicket in 55 overs in the second innings was almost equally remarkable in another way. (See RoshanF's comment.)

    If Bangladesh ever played a five-match series in Australia or South Africa, I could imagine them losing all 100 wickets easily enough, and probably quite cheaply, but I would expect the wickets to be shared among four or five bowlers, and think it unlikely that any one bowler would take more than 35.

  • Pelham_Barton on November 26, 2009, 12:18 GMT

    Interesting stuff. One point of correction:

    While the Bs usually played a full eleven with surnames beginning with B, the team that was all out for 6 in 1810 had two guest players (Wells and Lawrell), who scored 5 of the 6 runs between them. One of the Bs was absent hurt in the relevant innings.

  • pauld on November 26, 2009, 7:28 GMT

    I've always thought Bannerman's percentage record was one of the most fascinating in the game - the fact it was set in the first test and has never been eclipsed is remarkable.

    But on Bradman & his records - what about his 1930 record of 974 runs in a test series? I think that is one that will never be eclipsed. The successful player would have to bat out of their skin for a whole series, and score 3-4 double hundreds to have any chance at all. Mark Taylor is the only person in the last 20 years to get anywhere near it with 839 from 11 innings (in a 6 match series no less) whereas Bradman did it in 7 innings from 5! Remarkable...

  • Sach.S on November 26, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    I also think that Murali's most number of 5-fors and 10-fors too are very less likely to be broken by anyone.

    Another one is, Arjuna Ranatunga played in the 1st and the 100th Test of his country. It'll be a long time before it gets broken.

  • VishyKnight on November 26, 2009, 5:07 GMT

    @KiwiMarcus : You are right! How can I forget Lara's quadruple and quintuple hundreds! His quintuple hundred is one of the records which can vie for a position on this list. Well, Ponsford's record is still not broken though - Lara is a joint holder of the record now :) But I concede the point to you. I must be getting old :)

  • knowledge_eater on November 26, 2009, 3:33 GMT

    If I was Mr. Cowdrey, I would have dropped that catch and present a wicket to Mr. Laker .. i bet he (Cowdrey) must have thought about it after J. Laker took another 9+1 wicket in 2nd inning, which would have made record immortal. However, it looks immortal already, 19 wickets .. and that against Aussy. Great achievement. Sir bradman's record is impossible to beat as well as the way ppl play really fast test now days. Its going to be great contest between Sachin and Ponting .. as the way they both are playing it seems like who ever retire last will keep the record. Gotta keep physical and mental fitness up to mark. Murali's record is immortal already, i think he is going to stop around 3 years from today at most. I want to see batsman reaching 200 in one-day and 10 wickets in one-day. Oh yeah, Lara's 400 will be hard to beat as the way everyone wants result now days .. there is only one person who can get close to that would be Sehwag or Heyden ohh wait he retire i miss that big guy :D

  • waspsting on November 26, 2009, 3:05 GMT

    @RoshanF - Holding took 14 wickets, not 16. @Hoodbu - Herbert Sutcliffe matches Miandad's record - in fact, his average never fell below 60! @VishyKnight - Mike Procter matches C. B Fry's 6 consecutive 100s. @KarthikR - i hadn't heard of the record you mention, but Hugh Tayfield bowled 137 consecutive balls without conceding a run in test cricket - which unless the match was 8 ball overs - is greater than the one you mentioned.

    Off the "unbreakable records" - I think Barnes' is most vulnerable (which isn't saying much - its pretty damn safe as it is). Of the touchables - I think Ponsford's record is the most secure - I hadn't even heard of it before.

  • Munish.Kalia on November 26, 2009, 0:46 GMT

    The professionalization of Cricket and looking at amount of cricket played in modern era, W Rhodes' Longest career in Test Cricket for 30 years and 315 days is also one the hardest to be eclipsed. Any room for this record to be in the list.

  • No1Blockhead on November 26, 2009, 0:42 GMT

    My favoutite record is the world last wicket record set almost 81 years ago of 307 by Alan Kippax and Hal Hooker for New South Wales vs Victoria in 1928. New South Wales were 9/113 chasing Victoria's 376 when Hooker arrived at the crease. Hooker was eventually out for 62 and Kippax was left on 260 no.

  • redneck on November 25, 2009, 23:09 GMT

    @fakhy, mate thats exactly my point. you take away murali's 176 wickets that he took against minows with questionable test status, and then take the 17 warne took against the same opposition off his record and warne comes out way in front! and thats even before you look at the whole no ball, chucking controversy!

  • iyerboy on November 25, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    What about yuvraj singh's 12 ball 50 ??? that surely seems untouchable... given that the best that can be done is 9 balls...

  • Podders on November 25, 2009, 22:16 GMT

    Nice thought about Javed averaging 50+, Hoodbu, but he shares that achievement with Herbert Sutcliffe. Doug Walters Also got off to a flier with 155 in his first innings and another hundred in his second Test. In fact, he averaged over 60 after 24 Tests. If only he had not gone to England so often, his average might have stayed above 60 ... quickly now, a couple of other invincible records ... not the fact that Tendulkar scored 497 runs between dismissals in 2004 ... 241no, 60no, 194no, 2 ... or that after being 2no, he was dismissed 6 times in scoring his next 24 runs ... no, the invincible record is that Dravid declared when Tendulkar was on 194no ... surely it will be a declaration that will never be repeated? A couple of others ... another 'batsman' of Steve Harmison's stature averaging 132 in Tests at The Oval ... and Chris Martin's drought with the bat ... taking 41 Test wickets in between adding to his career batting aggregate. Chris 'scores' so rarely, he could be a monk.

  • nlambda on November 25, 2009, 21:03 GMT

    @hoodbu: Herbert Sutcliffe's test average never went below 60 throughout his career.

  • TusharVyas on November 25, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    Dear Mr. Rob, why does Mohammed Azharuddin's record of three consecutive centuries on debut does not occur on your list of so-called invincibles? Do you think anybody could repeat this act in future? I put all my money against this. Please comment.

  • PrinceofPortofSpain on November 25, 2009, 20:32 GMT

    How about Sir Donald Bradman`s other unbeatable Test records? 974 runs in a 5 test series, 4 centuries in a test series 3 times, 19 centuries against England and 100+ average on 6 test grounds. Also how about Sir Gary Sobers 365*, the highest maiden hundred and still the highest score against Pakistan?

  • 69dmw on November 25, 2009, 19:55 GMT

    For me the hardest test record to beat would be George Lohmann's 112 wickets at 10.75. Given the improvement in batting conditions and equipment, I can't see anyone ever taking at least 100 wickets and getting close to that average again.

  • degiant on November 25, 2009, 19:42 GMT

    I think the hardest cricket record to breah is Rowe's double and single hundreds on debut. The reason being is that a batsman has only one chance, and that is on his debut

  • melvn on November 25, 2009, 16:50 GMT

    some unnoticed invincibles .

    Highest chase in an ODI south africas 434. Sachins ODI runs and hundreds. Dravids twice 300+ odi partnerships.(in tests he has 3 300+ partnerships) Sachin and ganguly have include in 3 250+ ODI partnerships. Laxmans 3 300+ partnerships against australia.

    Sehwags fastest triple hundred from just 278 balls.(I dont have any faith in this record as he himself may break this soon) he also have a 250 in almost as many balls and his first triple century came in around 350/360 balls

  • Singhe on November 25, 2009, 16:26 GMT

    I can't believe how the WI has slipped off the radar of cricket lovers: with the exception of Brian Lara. One of my favourite record, which has now stood for about 37 yrs is Lawrence Rowe's TEST DEBUT of a double and a century. If this record is not broken in the next 5 yrs, considering the style of the openers coming up ( the likes of Hughes, Dilshan, Sewag,,,etc), it may never be broken as test cricket dwindles.....

  • Rake1 on November 25, 2009, 16:07 GMT

    What about Bradman's 974 aggregate of runs in a single series - 1930 vs England?

  • Ramaswami on November 25, 2009, 14:59 GMT

    I believe Herb Sutcliffe's average during his entire Test career NEVER went below what he had set in his first series. If true this must be surely hard to beat.

  • Engle on November 25, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    Here's some more. H.Sutcliffe's career avg never dipped below 60. Highest partnership (249 runs) by 2 Test debutants (K.Ibadulla and A.Kadir). G.Giffen's leading both batting and bowling aggregates (IIRC) for both sides in a series 1894/95 vs Eng. Most catches by a substitute wkeeper,4 by Majid Khan in Kingston, WIndies 76/77.

  • Ramaswami on November 25, 2009, 14:53 GMT

    Will anyone make his debut at an age older than that of James Southerton or even at the age of 35+?

  • KiwiMarcus on November 25, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    VishyKnight: I don't follow this one of your suggestions. (2) Bill Ponsford's two quadruple hundreds (81 years) Lara has two quadruple hundreds also (in fact a quintuple and a quadruple).

  • eldar on November 25, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    I think the 8th-wicket partnership might go. Consider Australia bowling out the opposition on the first day, using a nightwatchman then collapsing to 100/7 on the second morning, Ponting still in with 50-odd, and Johnson at the crease with batting conditions set to improve the rest of the match. I can see a 400+ run stand as a possibility then. Of course this is a 1st-class not Test record, I'm just pulling out an example most everyone can relate to.

  • mtthw on November 25, 2009, 12:47 GMT

    One of the most amazing of Hobb's stats is that he scored 100 100s...after the age of 40! So Ramprakash would have to start all over again to reach that one.

  • Meszudo on November 25, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    Actually kvik, depends who you ask. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variations_in_First-Class_Cricket_Statistics#Jack_Hobbs

    2 centuries he scored on a tour of Sri Lanka are the issue - some people (like Cricinfo) count it, some (like Wisden Almanack) do not.

    What about Australia scoring 721 runs in a day against Essex? Will that ever be surpassed for the highest runs scored in a day for a First Class Match?

  • abhijithsimha on November 25, 2009, 11:55 GMT

    I guess Hasan Raza's youngest test player record is also hard to break, now that ICC is demanding more transparency in the ages of U-19 players...

  • fakhy on November 25, 2009, 11:28 GMT

    @ redneck. on murali's record: he has 786 wkts as i type. of the present crickets, ntini is closest to murali and he has only 388 wkts. brett lee has a better strike rate than murali but has 310 wkts. both players will not be playing for too long to have a chance of breaking his record. murali has an average of almost 6 wkts per match, and of present players none have an avg of 5 wkts/match. with the way pitches are being made to suit batsmen, and with the problems of player burnout, i too see murali's record as being unbeatable. if u remove the wkts he has taken against zim and bang, he has 610 wkts - only 2 other bowlers have more wkts. i rest my case.

  • dsirl on November 25, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    kvik, it depends on who's counting Hobbs' centuries. Many authorities have 197, many have 199. The debate is not a matter of counting but of the first-class status of some of the matches Hobbs played in on a 1930-31 tour of Ceylon. Hobbs himself maintained that the matches were far from first-class but some well-known cricket number-counters include them nonetheless.

  • RomanCitizen on November 25, 2009, 10:54 GMT

    For sure Ken Suttle's 424 consecutive County Championship appearances will NEVER be broken.

  • Robski on November 25, 2009, 10:23 GMT

    This is the first time I have ever responded to a comment about one of my own columns, but I just wanted to say that, according to research by Cricket Archive and the Association of Cricket Statisticians, both of whom have corrected various "accepted" records attributed to the likes of WG Grace et al, Jack Hobbs scored 199 not 197 first-class hundreds.

  • Willowman on November 25, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    What about Charles Bannerman's record for scoring the highest percentage of a completed test innings? It's stood since the very first test. Surely that must be due to go soon?

  • D.V.C. on November 25, 2009, 8:58 GMT

    What about Bannerman in Test #1 - highest percentage of his team's innings! Sehwag has looked close on occasion, but then he gets out.

  • Kart_in_Quartz on November 25, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Excellent statistics. The one other area which notably comes to mind in joining this list is Bapu Nadkarni's set of consecutive maidens. He had a spell of 32-27-5-0 against England in 1964, with 21 consecutive maidens! A 35-yr old record already. In todays' T20 scenario, can someone take up the challenge to beat that?

  • VishyKnight on November 25, 2009, 8:27 GMT

    Beautiful article! Other records I can think of which can vie for a position in the list are : (1) Partnership of 307 for the last wicket between Alan Kippax and JEH Hooker, NSW vs Victoria (80 years) (2) Bill Ponsford's two quadruple hundreds (81 years) (3) Frank Woolley's 1018 first class catches (70 years) (4) C.B.Fry's 6 first class hundreds off consecutive innings (108 years) (5) Everton Weekes' 5 test hundreds off consecutive innings (61 years)

  • fakhy on November 25, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    nice article, rob seems to have an eye for picking out interesting statistics and analyzes them well. good read...

  • hoodbu on November 25, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    Another one unlikely to be matched is Javed Miandad's career batting average of above 50 throughout his career. Given that his career was over 100 Test matches, this is even more impressive.

  • MAK123 on November 25, 2009, 6:45 GMT

    I know you have essentially touched upon the Test records but how about placing Umer Gul in the untouchable category for his 5 wickets for 6 runs in the recent World T20 Tournament?

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on November 25, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    What about Lara's 400 and 501? I think no other player would ever hold these two records simultaneously ever.

  • RoshanF on November 25, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Lovely stat read. However it could never be a toss up between the unbelievable 52 Test, 80 innings career record of the Don and the one-off Test performance by Laker, incredible though it was. The Dons 99.94 is 'the' cricket record of them. To be nearly 40 runs per innings ahead of his contemporaries (and Hammond, Hutton, Headley and co. all greats in their own rightsl) is far, far the greater record. Now to be a little brutal, Laker took his wickets on a real turner although must admit in being bemused why Lock couldn't take more than 1. For me the real Test bowling 'performance' record (if ever there could be one) has go to be Michael Holding's out-of-this-world 16 English wickets he blew away at the most placid of pitches at the Oval in 1976. Remember, there a very young Viv Richards smashed 291 and Dennis Amiss got 200 plus as well. And yet Holding looked absolutely deadly.

  • mohitbhartia on November 25, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    Really great research done in the field of Statistics and Records. I totally agree with all the records mentioned above.

  • redneck on November 25, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    i recon SF Barnes would be introuble if bangledesh were to ever get a invite for a 5 test series in australia or south africa! (not likely to happen though) and as for murali's record why its hard to see anyone overtaking the number of wickets, it is one of the most controversial and disputed records in test cricket and not just for the rather bent arm he "bowls" with but for the sheer number of wickets collected against bangledesh and zimbabwe aswell!

  • kvik on November 25, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    Hobbs has 197 first class 100s, not 199. Another record unlikely to be replicated - Touring Indians v Surrey, 1946 (if I recall correctly). Both Nos. 10 & 11 scored a 100 One record that has stood for 73 years, but may fall one day - 588 runs in a day of Test cricket. England v India at Manchester, 1936. England scored their last 398 runs of their first innings, and after they were all out India replied with 190/0 through Mushtaq Ali & Vijay Merchant.

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  • kvik on November 25, 2009, 3:10 GMT

    Hobbs has 197 first class 100s, not 199. Another record unlikely to be replicated - Touring Indians v Surrey, 1946 (if I recall correctly). Both Nos. 10 & 11 scored a 100 One record that has stood for 73 years, but may fall one day - 588 runs in a day of Test cricket. England v India at Manchester, 1936. England scored their last 398 runs of their first innings, and after they were all out India replied with 190/0 through Mushtaq Ali & Vijay Merchant.

  • redneck on November 25, 2009, 3:45 GMT

    i recon SF Barnes would be introuble if bangledesh were to ever get a invite for a 5 test series in australia or south africa! (not likely to happen though) and as for murali's record why its hard to see anyone overtaking the number of wickets, it is one of the most controversial and disputed records in test cricket and not just for the rather bent arm he "bowls" with but for the sheer number of wickets collected against bangledesh and zimbabwe aswell!

  • mohitbhartia on November 25, 2009, 4:04 GMT

    Really great research done in the field of Statistics and Records. I totally agree with all the records mentioned above.

  • RoshanF on November 25, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    Lovely stat read. However it could never be a toss up between the unbelievable 52 Test, 80 innings career record of the Don and the one-off Test performance by Laker, incredible though it was. The Dons 99.94 is 'the' cricket record of them. To be nearly 40 runs per innings ahead of his contemporaries (and Hammond, Hutton, Headley and co. all greats in their own rightsl) is far, far the greater record. Now to be a little brutal, Laker took his wickets on a real turner although must admit in being bemused why Lock couldn't take more than 1. For me the real Test bowling 'performance' record (if ever there could be one) has go to be Michael Holding's out-of-this-world 16 English wickets he blew away at the most placid of pitches at the Oval in 1976. Remember, there a very young Viv Richards smashed 291 and Dennis Amiss got 200 plus as well. And yet Holding looked absolutely deadly.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on November 25, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    What about Lara's 400 and 501? I think no other player would ever hold these two records simultaneously ever.

  • MAK123 on November 25, 2009, 6:45 GMT

    I know you have essentially touched upon the Test records but how about placing Umer Gul in the untouchable category for his 5 wickets for 6 runs in the recent World T20 Tournament?

  • hoodbu on November 25, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    Another one unlikely to be matched is Javed Miandad's career batting average of above 50 throughout his career. Given that his career was over 100 Test matches, this is even more impressive.

  • fakhy on November 25, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    nice article, rob seems to have an eye for picking out interesting statistics and analyzes them well. good read...

  • VishyKnight on November 25, 2009, 8:27 GMT

    Beautiful article! Other records I can think of which can vie for a position in the list are : (1) Partnership of 307 for the last wicket between Alan Kippax and JEH Hooker, NSW vs Victoria (80 years) (2) Bill Ponsford's two quadruple hundreds (81 years) (3) Frank Woolley's 1018 first class catches (70 years) (4) C.B.Fry's 6 first class hundreds off consecutive innings (108 years) (5) Everton Weekes' 5 test hundreds off consecutive innings (61 years)

  • Kart_in_Quartz on November 25, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Excellent statistics. The one other area which notably comes to mind in joining this list is Bapu Nadkarni's set of consecutive maidens. He had a spell of 32-27-5-0 against England in 1964, with 21 consecutive maidens! A 35-yr old record already. In todays' T20 scenario, can someone take up the challenge to beat that?