Agarkar reaches his maiden hundred at Lord's in 2002 © Getty Images

Given Jason Gillespie's bottomless reservoir of patience, his penchant for stonewalling and the weak opposition he was facing, it was not so much his 526-minute and 425-ball innings that astonished, but the fact that he made 201 runs in the course of it. His masterclass at Chittagong proved that even a limited batsman could achieve the seemingly impossible.

This week, the List features batsmen with the lowest averages before scoring their maiden century and double-century, and those who had to wait the longest for a Test hundred.

Eight ducks, five in a row against Australia, in his first 16 innings and several spells on the sidelines had reduced the batsman in Ajit Agarkar to an object of ridicule. At Lord's, he soothed some of his wounds with his maiden century but India still lost by 170 runs. Since then, he's not gone past fifty and his batting potential remains just that.

Most unlikely Test centuries - by batting average prior to the match (qualification: 5 matches)
Player Runs Opposition GroundSeason Scorecard Mat Ave
AB Agarkar (India) 109* v England Lord's 2002Test 1610 11 7.81
WJ Edrich (Eng)219 v South Africa Durban 1938/39 Test 271 8 8.69
SE Gregory (Aust) 201 v EnglandSydney 1894/95 Test 42 6 10.00
JM Parker (NZ) 108 v Australia Sydney 1973/74Test 729 5 10.42
MS Atapattu (SL)108 v India Chandigarh 1997/98 Test 1385 9 10.70
KR Rutherford (NZ) 107* v EnglandWellington 1987/88 Test 1094 13 11.19
IJ Siedle (SAf) 141 v England Cape Town 1930/31Test 202 5 11.55
TR Gripper (Zimb)112 v Bangladesh Chittagong (MAA) 2001/02 Test 1568 8 11.66
W Barnes (Eng) 134 v AustraliaAdelaide 1884/85 Test 17 8 11.84

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  • Marvan Atapattu also had a horrendous start to his Test career: dropped after a pair on debut, he one run in his second match and another pair in his third after 16 months on the sidelines. His highest score in 11 innings before the 1997-98 tour of India was 29. At Mohali, he scored his first century. His first double came two months later and Atapattu had turned the corner.

    Gillespie has the third-lowest average for a batsman before scoring his maiden double-hundred but the two batsmen whose averages are lower belong to the era before World War II. Coincidentally both Gillespie and Wasin Akram, whose double-century helped Pakistan avoid defeat against Zimbabwe, reached their landmarks in their 71st Test.

    Most unlikely Test double centuries - by batting average prior to the match (qualification: 5 matches)
    PlayerRuns Opposition Ground Season Scorecard Mat Ave
    WJ Edrich (Eng) 219v South Africa Durban 1938/39 Test 271 88.69
    SE Gregory (Aust) 201 v England Sydney1894/95 Test 42 6 10.00
    JN Gillespie (Aust) 201* v Bangladesh Chittagong (CDS) 2005/06 Test 1799 70 15.64
    RWT Key (Eng) 221v West Indies Lord's 2004 Test 1707 818.76
    Wasim Akram (Pak) 257* v Zimbabwe Sheikhupura1996/97 Test 1336 70 19.20
    SFAF Bacchus (WI) 250 v India Kanpur 1978/79 Test 845 7 20.30
    HH Gibbs (SAf) 211*v New Zealand Christchurch 1998/99 Test 1449 1221.22
    MS Atapattu (SL) 223 v Zimbabwe Kandy1997/98 Test 1394 12 21.42
    GJ Whittall (Zimb) 203* v New Zealand Bulawayo 1997/98 Test 1379 19 22.63

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  • Akram had scored a century prior to his double but Gillespie's 70-Test wait for his first hundred is by far the longest, beating Heath Streak, who played 55 Tests before scoring a hundred.

    Longest wait for first century - by matches before first instance
    Player Opposition Ground Season Scorecard Mat
    JN Gillespie (Aust) v BangladeshChittagong (CDS) 2005/06 Test 1799 70
    HH Streak (Zimb) v West Indies Harare 2003/04 Test 1668 55
    SM Pollock (SAf) v Sri Lanka Centurion 2000/01Test 1529 50
    DL Vettori (NZ) v PakistanHamilton 2003/04 Test 1676 48
    IA Healy (Aust) v England Manchester 1993 Test 1223 47
    ADR Campbell (Zimb) v India Nagpur 2000/01Test 1517 46
    Intikhab Alam (Pak) v EnglandHyderabad (Sind) 1972/73 Test 717 36
    M Prabhakar (India) v West Indies Chandigarh 1994/95 Test 1278 35
    W Rhodes (Eng) v Australia Melbourne 1911/12Test 119 34
    SMH Kirmani (India) v AustraliaMumbai 1979/80 Test 860 34

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

    George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo