On this day in 2011, the 2000th Test in history ended – it was played between England and India at Lord’s. Hence, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some milestone Tests.
Test #1 – Australia vs England, Melbourne, 1877
Between 15-19 March 1877, the first-ever Test match was played as Australia and England faced off at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The first delivery in Test history was bowled by England’s Alfred Shaw and it was faced by Australia’s Charles Bannerman.
Bannerman created more history during the Test. Not only did he become the first player to make a Test century, he also scored 67.34% (165* in a total of 245) of his team’s runs – a record for the highest percentage of runs in a completed Test innings. There have been 2388 Tests played since, over 143 years, and still the record stands.
Australia won the match by 45 runs, a feat they’d repeat in the Centenary Test, exactly 100 years later.
Test #100 – Australia vs England, Sydney, 1908
31 years later, the 100th Test was also played between Australia and England. By this time, the two rivals were battling it out for the urn which is said to contain the ashes of a burnt cricket bail with the series consequentially known as The Ashes, a tradition that has continued to date.
Out of the first 100 Tests, 81 were played between Australia and England with South Africa the only other Test side during this time.
While England took a big lead at the end of the first innings thanks to a century from George Gunn, iconic Australian batsman Victor Trumper made 166 to set the visitors a fourth-innings target of 279. The hosts would eventually win the match by 49 runs to complete a superb comeback.
Test #500 – Australia vs West Indies, Melbourne, 1960-61
It’s fair to say that Test #500 was nowhere as memorable as Test #498, which was the previous match in the series between Australia and West Indies in 1960-61. For the first 497 Tests, every match was either won, lost or drawn before the enthralling contest in Brisbane in December 1960 saw Test cricket’s first-ever tie.
Whatever happened in the next match, it was never going to match up to the drama and excitement that had occurred during the Brisbane Test. The Melbourne contest that followed – Test #500 – was won by Australia by seven wickets, with left-arm pacer Alan Davidson picking up a six-wicket haul in West Indies’ first innings.
In fact, at one stage in their first innings, West Indies were in a comfortable position at 124/2 with Rohan Kanhai and Seymour Nurse both set with half-centuries, but a batting collapse followed which saw the visitors bowled out for 181. Kanhai and Nurse were the only two West Indian batsmen who reached double figures. Following on, Sir Conrad Hunte notched up a hundred, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Test #1000 – Pakistan vs New Zealand, Hyderabad (Sind), 1984
Over 100 years after the first Test had been played, the 1000th Test took place between Pakistan and New Zealand in Hyderabad (Sind). At the time, Pakistan hadn’t lost a Test at home for nearly four years, and with the hosts having already established a 1-0 lead in this series, a tall task lay ahead for New Zealand.
The Blackcaps, though, took a 37-run lead at the end of the first innings in the 1000th Test – mainly thanks to a hundred by John Reid and a seven-wicket haul by left-arm spinner Stephen Boock.
In the second innings, New Zealand’s batsmen succumbed to the spin duo of Abdul Qadir and Iqbal Qasim who took eight wickets between them. A target of 227 can be tricky, especially when the score at one stage reads 14/2. Javed Miandad had scored a century in Pakistan’s first innings and he repeated the feat, guiding the hosts to a seven-wicket win with Mudassar Nazar also notching up a three-digit score.
Test #2000 – England vs India, London (Lord’s), 2011
While the first 1000 Tests had taken 107 years, the next 1000 took less than 27. By 2011, two other formats – One-Day Internationals and T20 Internationals – were in full flow, but with 10 teams playing Tests and decades of progress in travel and technology, the game’s oldest format was played more frequently than ever before.
The setting for the 2000th Test was grand – the match was held between two of the top three ranked teams in the world at Lord’s, also known as the Home of Cricket. Coming into the series, India were the top-ranked team while England were third, with both sides having not lost a Test series in over two years.
It turned out to be a pretty one-sided contest, though, as England won by 196 runs. An injury to premier pace bowler Zaheer Khan on day one of the Test turned out to be a defining moment during the 2011 English summer for India as the visitors went on get whitewashed 4-0 in the series, thereby letting go of their number one spot on the rankings to England.
Post the 2000th Test
England and West Indies are currently contesting in Test #2390 at Old Trafford, Manchester. So, how do the first 2000 Tests compare to the matches that have happened in the format since?
One noticeable factor is the number of Tests that produce results, with the percentage of drawn matches falling significantly. This could, of course, be attributed to the advent of T20 cricket which has had an effect on the longer formats.
While 34.9% of the first 2000 Tests were drawn, only 17.48% of the last 389 completed matches in the format have ended without a result.
In fact, considering a minimum of 10 matches in a year, 2019 and 2018 saw the least percentage of drawn Tests ever at 10.26 and 10.42 respectively. Currently, in 2020, there have been 12 completed Tests with only one ending in a draw. This trend bodes well for the future of Test cricket.