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George Binoy and Travis Basevi dig into our stats database

The solitary centurions

Batsmen who scored the highest proportion of centuries in Test innings where no one else did

Travis Basevi and George Binoy

June 20, 2012

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Geoff Boycott sweeps on his way to passing Garry Sobers' world record aggregate of Test runs, India v England, Delhi, December 1981
When Geoff Boycott scored a Test hundred in an innings, often no other England batsmen did © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: AB de Villiers | Hanif Mohammad | Brian Lara

After Andrew Strauss scored the only centuries for England in the recent Tests against West Indies, a reader, Tim Barwell, asked which batsmen had the highest proportion of solitary hundreds: centuries scored in innings in which no one else had made one.

A high percentage of solitary centuries could indicate which batsmen were likely to score big in conditions that got the best of their team-mates. Or they could reveal who spent most of their careers in weak line-ups, carrying the responsibility of scoring most of the team's runs. They could also indicate who was more likely to score the important hundreds. We considered only those who had scored at least ten Test centuries.

Pakistan's Hanif Mohammad scored 12 centuries in 55 Tests and ten (83%) of those were in innings in which no other batsmen made a hundred. Only one of those innings - against West Indies in Karachi in 1959 - resulted in a Pakistan victory but none of them were in defeat. Even during Hanif's most famous innings, a 970-minute 337 that saved Pakistan from defeat in Barbados, the most his team-mates managed in the match was 91.

Hanif is followed by five England batsmen in our table below, led by Geoff Boycott, who scored 18 of his 22 centuries when none of his team-mates managed a hundred in the innings. England won seven and did not lose any of those matches. After Boycott, there's Ian Botham, Allan Lamb, Colin Cowdrey and Graham Gooch, all of whom scored at least 75% of their centuries when no one else did. And several of them had overlapping careers.

Highest % of Test hundreds scored as the sole hundred in the innings (qualification: 10 hundreds)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave 100 Sole 100 % Sole 100 Sole 100 win/loss
Hanif Mohammad (Pak) 1952-1969 54 97 3915 43.98 12 10 83.33 1/0
G Boycott (Eng) 1964-1982 108 193 8114 47.72 22 18 81.82 7/0
IT Botham (Eng) 1977-1992 101 161 5200 33.54 14 11 78.57 7/1
AJ Lamb (Eng) 1982-1992 79 139 4656 36.09 14 11 78.57 2/6
MC Cowdrey (Eng) 1954-1975 113 188 7624 44.06 22 17 77.27 8/1
GA Gooch (Eng) 1975-1995 118 215 8900 42.58 20 15 75.00 6/3
AI Kallicharran (WI) 1972-1981 66 109 4399 44.43 12 9 75.00 4/1
BC Lara (ICC/WI) 1990-2006 130 232 11953 52.88 34 25 73.53 5/13
DM Jones (Aus) 1984-1992 51 89 3631 46.55 11 8 72.73 2/0
HP Tillakaratne (SL) 1989-2004 80 131 4545 42.87 11 8 72.73 3/2
N Hussain (Eng) 1990-2004 96 171 5764 37.18 14 10 71.43 5/4
IVA Richards (WI) 1974-1991 121 182 8540 50.23 24 17 70.83 7/2
PA de Silva (SL) 1984-2002 91 159 6361 42.97 20 14 70.00 3/2
GA Headley (WI) 1930-1954 22 40 2190 60.83 10 7 70.00 2/3
M Azharuddin (India) 1984-2000 95 147 6215 45.03 22 15 68.18 5/5
AR Border (Aus) 1978-1994 154 265 11174 50.56 27 18 66.67 2/3
DC Boon (Aus) 1984-1996 107 190 7422 43.65 21 14 66.67 4/1
DI Gower (Eng) 1978-1992 117 204 8231 44.25 18 12 66.67 3/4
MP Vaughan (Eng) 1999-2008 82 147 5719 41.44 18 12 66.67 2/3
AJ Stewart (Eng) 1990-2003 133 235 8463 39.54 15 10 66.67 5/0
TM Dilshan (SL) 1999-2012 76 129 4722 40.01 12 8 66.67 4/2
A Flower (Zim) 1992-2002 63 112 4794 51.54 12 8 66.67 0/7
JG Wright (NZ) 1978-1993 82 148 5334 37.82 12 8 66.67 2/1

The batsman with the most solitary centuries is Brian Lara - 25 out of 34 Test hundreds. Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar are next with 23 and 21 hundreds. For the latter half of his career, Lara was part of a struggling West Indies team, and he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul did most of the run scoring. Only five of Lara's 25 solitary hundreds resulted in West Indian victories, and 13 were in defeat. Perhaps the best example of Lara scoring runs in vain was in Sri Lanka in 2001 - he made 688 in three Tests but Sri Lanka won two matches by 10 wickets and the third by an innings.

If we remove the ten-century qualification then Australia's Victor Trumper scored seven out of eight tons in innings in which he was the only centurion, while South Africa's Roy McLean, England's Jack Russell, who played in the 1920s, and Mohammad Ashraful had five out of five.

The table below contains a list of batsmen with the lowest proportion of solitary hundreds, but considering even Don Bradman features, it is an indication of the powerful batting line-ups they were part of, rather than a tendency to score low-pressure hundreds.

For example, only one of AB de Villiers' 13 Test hundreds has come in an innings where no other South African celebrated a century - they lost that match, against Australia at Wanderers in 2009. For his other centuries, de Villiers usually had Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla or Ashwell Prince also scoring at least one.

And only two of Adam Gilchrist's hundreds were solitary because he usually came in at No. 7, after someone above had already put Australia on top, to flatten the opponent with an aggressive innings. Gilchrist's solo hundreds were at Newlands in 2002 and Fatullah in 2006, and both times he pulled Australia out of first-innings trouble and steered them towards victory.

Lowest % of Test hundreds scored as the sole hundred in the innings (qualification: 10 hundreds)
Player Span Mat Inns Runs Ave 100 Sole 100 % Sole 100 Sole 100 win/loss
AB de Villiers (SA) 2004-2012 74 125 5457 49.16 13 1 7.69 0/1
AC Gilchrist (Aus) 1999-2008 93 137 5570 47.60 17 2 11.76 2/0
VVS Laxman (India) 1996-2012 134 225 8781 45.97 17 4 23.53 2/1
IR Bell (Eng) 2004-2012 77 129 5383 47.63 16 4 25.00 3/0
SC Ganguly (India) 1996-2008 111 188 7212 42.17 16 4 25.00 2/0
RJ Shastri (India) 1981-1992 76 121 3830 35.79 11 3 27.27 0/1
HM Amla (SA) 2004-2012 59 103 4464 46.98 14 4 28.57 0/2
IM Chappell (Aus) 1964-1980 75 136 5345 42.42 14 4 28.57 1/2
HH Gibbs (SA) 1996-2008 90 154 6167 41.95 14 4 28.57 1/2
ST Jayasuriya (SL) 1991-2007 108 188 6973 40.07 14 4 28.57 2/2
GC Smith (ICC/SA) 2002-2012 99 174 8042 49.64 24 7 29.17 5/0
PD Collingwood (Eng) 2003-2011 67 115 4259 40.56 10 3 30.00 1/1
AL Hassett (Aus) 1938-1953 43 69 3073 46.56 10 3 30.00 1/0
RB Simpson (Aus) 1957-1978 62 111 4869 46.81 10 3 30.00 1/0
WM Lawry (Aus) 1961-1971 67 123 5234 47.15 13 4 30.77 3/1
MEK Hussey (Aus) 2005-2012 73 127 5708 50.07 16 5 31.25 3/1
MJ Clarke (Aus) 2004-2012 83 138 6097 48.77 19 6 31.58 2/2
AR Morris (Aus) 1946-1955 46 79 3533 46.48 12 4 33.33 3/0
Javed Miandad (Pak) 1976-1993 123 189 8832 52.57 23 8 34.78 5/1
JL Langer (Aus) 1993-2007 105 182 7696 45.27 23 8 34.78 7/0
AG Prince (SA) 2002-2011 64 104 3665 41.64 11 4 36.36 3/0
DG Bradman (Aus) 1928-1948 50 80 6996 99.94 29 11 37.93 8/1
JH Kallis (ICC/SA) 1995-2012 152 257 12379 56.78 42 16 38.10 5/2
DR Martyn (Aus) 1992-2006 67 109 4406 46.37 13 5 38.46 4/0
R Dravid (ICC/India) 1996-2012 164 286 13288 52.31 36 14 38.89 5/4

If there's a particular List that you would like to see, email us with your comments and suggestions.

Travis Basevi is a cricket statistician and UK Senior Programmer for ESPNcricinfo and other ESPN sports websites. George Binoy is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket

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