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The Roar


Plenty of Test cricket's records look safe, but which ones can still be broken?

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Roar Rookie
18th January, 2024

One of the absolute joys that makes test cricket unique is there is no other sport where records set, whether by intent or by accident over 100 years ago can survive.

The first test set a record that 2522 tests later still hasn’t been broken (Charles Bannerman’s 165, the highest individual share of runs in a completed innings). Two weeks ago, South Africa and India played the shortest ever completed test, breaking a record set nearly 90 years before. Amazing.

With fewer tests being played and the suspect quality of some (whether due to the pitch or player talent), there is a chance some records that exist now, may outlive religion.

Let’s have a look at a random collection of records that are unlikely to ever be broken – and some that just might be broken with a bit of luck.

Best batting average (minimum 20 innings)

Don Bradman’s 99.94 will never be beaten. It’s been 76 years since he retired and the closest anyone has come to beating this record was Adam Voges’ average of 61.87, just a mere 38 runs behind. This will never be beaten. Unbreakable.

Australia's best-ever Don Bradman

Sir Donald Bradman. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Highest individual test score + highest team innings score


Brian Lara’s 400 will never be beat. It seems somewhat controversial to make the claim, but the nature of modern test cricket makes this a record that is likely to last. Hitting 400 requires a lot of luck, talent, time and selfishness. Lara’s 400 was one of the most selfish innings seen. He sacrificed any chance of winning solely to reclaim a record off Matt Hayden. It took talent because, hey it’s 400. No mug hits 400.

But modern cricket won’t waste time chasing such records now. David Warner got 335* against Pakistan and there was buckets of time left to go for the record. But Tim Paine declared the innings because he was not going to waste a second going for the win. It’s also such a huge total that you can’t hit at a strike rate of 100 and expect to still be there by the time you are hitting the 400th run. Unbreakable

We can add the highest team innings record to this as well. Nowadays no team is going to have the time or ability to bat 3 days to score the 953 runs needed to break this record. No team is that arrogant in this era either. Unbreakable.

Longest career (by time)

Wilfred Rhodes played test cricket for 31 years. A young Indian recently made his first class debut at just 12, but to break Rhodes’ record of longest career, he would be 43 if he started today. Unbreakable.

West Indian legend Brian Lara in action. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)

Most wickets in a career


Muttiah Muralitharan’s record is going to outlast all measures of time. There are only two countries that play enough test cricket for a player to get 800 wickets: England and Australia. The problem is that both have a spread of good bowlers, so are taking a spread of wickets. Sri Lanka only had one. Murali propped up an attack for his whole career and took 40% of the wickets available to him, which means you need to have Jimmy Anderson longevity, and he’s still over 100 wickets behind. Unbreakable.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene’s 624 run partnership

Not only will this not be broken in test cricket, it’s almost certain to outlast first class cricket as well. Quite simply this record is enormous. It’s a bloody good effort by a whole team to get 600 in modern test cricket. There are only 2 partnerships above 500 runs in test cricket, and one was set before the 624. The closest any partnership has gotten since is 449 between Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh. Again, for the same reasons as some of the aforementioned individual and team records: run accumulation is not the way test cricket is played anymore.

The shortest ever incomplete test – 10 balls, WI v England

This won’t be beaten ever again. This match should never have even been played, and I’m not sure administrators would be that stupid to put players on a surface so manifestly unsafe. But the fact that this beat a record that was less than 20 years old (again WI v England in the 90’s) is actually amazing. But this will be the shortest match ever played. Likewise, the longest incomplete match in 1939 between England and SA will be the longest. Unbreakable.

Now let’s look at those records that might still be beaten, but seem unlikely…


Muttiah Muralitharan is one of the greatest spinners in cricket history. (Photo by Rebecca Naden – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Most test centuries & most test runs

Sachin Tendulkar scored 51 centuries across 200 tests. Sure, this looks unbreakable and in all probability it is. But, England play a lot of test cricket and someone like Joe Root could do it. Sure, he’s a long way behind, but that’s mainly because he has – by comparison to his contemporaries – a dreadful conversion rate.

Root has scored 30 centuries and 60 half centuries. If it was 40/50 then we would seriously be contemplating this record being broken in the next 4-5 years. Root wont do it, but the point is if England produce another Joe Root who converts 50’s better, then 51 test centuries is eminently possible.

A lot of people also believe Tendulkar’s record of most runs is now unbeatable. But, again, get a good player out of England and a long career and it’s entirely beatable. Alastair Cook in all likelihood would have beaten it averaging 45 if he was prepared to stick around, but he retired at a relatively young 33. He was 3500 runs behind Tendulkar at the time. By England’s test load, he would have broken it in 5 years.

Despite the decline in the overall volume of tests, England are still good for at least 10 tests a year. It can happen, but only by an Englishmen I would think.

Charles Bannerman’s record


Many attempts have been made (all unintentional, inadvertent attempts of course) to break Bannerman’s record for the highest individual share of runs in a completed innings. Michael Slater came almightily close to beating it with a 123. Aiden Markham most recently was in the conversation. It just takes one good innings in a sea of rubbish. It could happen. And for the stats lovers, it’s Christmas Day if it happens. It’s the oldest record of them all… Imagine breaking it.

Jim Laker

England’s Jim Laker (second r) walks off the field at Old Trafford after taking all ten Australian wickets for just 53 runs in the second innings to win England the match and increase his personal haul for the match to a world-record 19 wickets. (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)

Tip Foster’s 287 on debut

The odds of this being beaten are remote, but it’s not an unbreakable record. It requires the perfect recipe; batting second, with the first innings being a low total allowing time for the responding innings to be a long one. The closest anyone has come to this 121 year record is Jacques Rudolph with his 222* in 2003. It does make one wonder whether Graeme Smith knew of the record when he declared? South Africa declared against a very bad Bangladesh at 470/2. They finished the match in 3.5 days. You’d have to reckon he could have let Rudolph go for it? You literally get one chance at breaking this one. Seems harsh by Smith to have been captain buzzkill.

Jim Laker’s Test figures of 19/90

Right -this is extremely unlikely. But you never know, you just need a good player in a poor team to have a spectacular test. Murali actually came quite close to this record once when he picked up 17 in a Test at Lords. I concede this is unlikely to be broken, but it’s not unbreakable. The iron clad rules of test cricket still dictate that while any amount of runs can win a test match, you still need 20 wickets. Someone could get the 20, or at least 19/89. I’m just not prepared to call it unbreakable. Call me a dreamer…

Shane Warne’s record of most runs without a test century


Shane Warne scored over 3100 runs without scoring a century. Believe it or not, there is current player out there who stands a decent chance of breaking this record, although I’m not sure he would want to.

Niroshan Dickwella is just 400 runs behind Warne and he’s still young (only 30), so it could happen. He’s a strange player, Dickwella. He’s a capable wicketkeeper/batter but he just can’t seem to get that elusive 100. What stands in his way is that he’s been dropped from the test team because Sri Lanka found a wicketkeeper who can score a century in Sadeera Samarawickrama. Given his age, he could make it back, he just needs to score a mountain of runs in first class cricket, and then a series of middling efforts in test cricket.

Also not without a chance, although he’d need to be in good form but not good enough to get 100 is Mitchell Starc. He’s 1000 runs behind.

This is definitely an unwanted record. It stung Warne he never got that 100. I would imagine if he were alive, he’d probably like to see this be beaten, and he’d probably have a chuckle if it was Starc to do it.

These were my unbreakables, and my unlikely-but-could-happen records. What are yours?