Test cricket is one of the oldest and most played formats of the game. And dates back to the 1800s. As the name suggests, it is a real test of the players. It is characterized by grit, energy, and a lot of patience. The batters and bowlers are really challenged mentally and physically as it’s not easy to spend a whole day dedicated to cricket. Players often spend hours on the field to win it for their team and history is full of incidents where cricketers have spent more than a day’s play on the crease.
The modern-day Test cricket comprises of five days only. Unlike the earlier days where there was no result of the match for days on end and even rest days were reserved for the players, the game does not consist of any rest and may even end before the set times. Teams often bowl out the opposition within three days which is quite unusual when compared to the early 1900 century games. Speaking of lengthy matches, let’s take a look at the top 5longest Tests in cricket history.
The Longest Test Match Of Cricket History
5- South Africa v Australia – 1911
In 1911, South Africa visited Australia for a five-Test match series. The third match of the series was special because it lasted six whole days starting from 7th January and ending on 13th January. Adelaide was the host to these two teams.
South Africa took to the field first. Billy Zulch and Tip Snooke played a brilliant inning for their side scoring 105 and 103 respectively and that took their team to 482 runs in 166.4 runs. A four-for for Warwick Armstrong and two wickets for Tibby Cotter put brakes for the African side. The second day was kept reserved for rest and Australians were put to test on day 3.
Victor Trumper’s 214* and Warren Bradsley’s 54 kept the momentum going for the Kangaroos but Charlie Llewellyn’s four-wicket haul put a stop to the opponent’s innings at 465 and hence at the end of day 3, the entire team was sent back home.
South Africa’s second inning began on day 4 and in the inning that lasted just one day, the side took 130.2 overs to make 360 runs. The Aussies were presented with a total of 378 runs. Their turn started on 12th January which was day 5 of the match and after a two-day effort, the Kangaroos lost the match falling short of just 38 runs at the end.
These are some of the Test matches that extended beyond the required time. The present-day game is very quick and fast and with so much revolution in technology, decisions are taken quickly. Plus the change in rules and regulations restrict the game to five days only now unless some emergency happens. The rest days have also been eliminated and the number of overs per day has also been limited to 90.
4- Australia v England – 1912
Another aches clash saw a test match that lasted longer than it should have. This longer version also happened in the fifth Ashes Test match but this time the venue was Sydney and the game wasn’t a very high-scoring one. The match took place from 23rd February to 1st March.
England played the first inning and in 129 overs they aggregated 324 runs. A brilliant 133 from Frank Woolley down the order and efforts from other players provided this many runs for the team. Ranji Hordern and Gerry Hazlett took five and three wickets respectively to put an end to England’s run spree. Their batting only lasted for one day.
Day 2 saw Australia hit the crease. Not one Aussie player could make even a half-century and the entire team collapsed on just 176. Sydney Barnes took three while Bill Hitch and Frank Woolley took two wickets each to achieve this feat of bolding out the entire team. After a rest day, the play could not resume on day 3 due to certain circumstances and not a single ball was balled.
Team England again took to the field with their bats on day four but could not replicate their first inning performance. They scored 214 runs in 70.3 overs and Australia now had to chase 363 runs. They had a great start to their inning and the openers landed the team 90 run partnership. 193 runs were made on day 5 and day 6 again saw no play happen. This broke the team’s momentum and when they continued to play on the 7th day, the team got bowled out on 292 and the English men won the match by 70 runs and the Ashes tournament by 4-1.
3- England v Australia – 1929
Looks like England cricket really has a thing for playing Tests that are stretched over many days. This time, they played against Australia in the ashes. The match was played from March 8 to March 16 and for eight days the two teams battled it out to win.
After winning the toss, the England team took to the field and registered a massive 519 in the first innings which consisted of two consecutive days. Jack Hobbs and Maurice Leyland crossed the hundred line while Patsy Hendren fell out on 95. Tim Wall and Percy Hornibrooks from the opposition took three wickets each.
During Australia’s first inning which started on day 3, Bill Woodfull and Donald Bradman administered their centuries and from contributions from other players came close to the target but a five-wicket haul from George Geary aided in sending the entire team back to the pavilion. After two days of batting, Australia got all out on 491.
England’s second inning started on day 5 of the Test match. This time, the home team’s bowlers were too good for them and England could only manage to put up a target of 286 runs to win. Though very less, the home side took three entire days to score 287 runs and for three entire days, the English bowlers could not put up a match-winning performance. Australia won the match and it was the only game in the series of five that they won escaping an embarrassing white-wash.
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2- England v West Indies – 1930
The second-longest Test match recorded took place between England and West Indies in Kingston when the English side visited the Caribbean. It was the last match in a four-match series and it lasted for nine days.
England won the toss and chose to bat first. Their first inning lasted for two days during which the mighty England side put on a humongous total of 849 runs thanks to a stellar 325 from Andy Sandham and 149 from Les Ames. Four more players made half-centuries and after playing 258.2 overs the team was bowled out with a fifer from Tommy Scott.
The West Indian team took the field and played 111.5 overs and could only score 286 runs in reply to such a big total. Karl Nunes made 66 runs which is the highest anyone could come to a hundred. Nigel and Ewart both took three wickets.
England’s second inning began on day 4 after a gap of one day and lasted for two days. During these, they were 272/9 and after playing 79.1 overs they declared the innings. The West Indies side was looking at a target of 836 runs and this time around they were determined to win. George Headley scored 223 runs and the team amassed 408/5 on day 7. There was no play for two days due to circumstances not known, and the match was declared a draw by the consensus of the two team captains.
1- England v South Africa – 1939
In 1939, the England team toured South Africa for a five-Test match series, and little did they know that they would be playing one of the longest Test matches and creating history. Also known as the ‘Timeless Test’ It was the fifth test and lasted ten days from March 3 to March 14. South Africa had won the toss and chose to bat first.
South Africa’s first inning lasted two entire days and at the end of day two, they were all bowled out at 530 runs. Pieter Bijl and Dudley Nourse registered centuries making 125 and 103 runs respectively. Alan Melville, Eric Dalton, and Ronnie Grieveson administered half-centuries and collectively the entire team was able to put such a big total on the board. The first inning consisted of 202.6 overs. Reg Perks of the opposition took five wickets.
After a gap of one day, England’s first inning began on 6th March. It also lasted for two days but they could not make the same impact as South Africa. Not one player crossed the 100 mark despite stretching the game for two days. Les Ames (84) and Eddie Paynter (62) are the only players who score more than 50 runs. Team England played 117.6 overs and Eric Dalton took a four-wicket haul.
With any delay, South Africa’s second inning began on day 5 and this time the team aggregated 481 runs. And when the visitors took the field, they never left it until the match was drawn. Their second inning expanded over four days with the team scoring 654 runs with five wickets to spare. The match had to be called off and declared a draw since the visiting team had a train to catch at 8:05 PM. 5,463 deliveries were bowled in this match which is a record in itself.