It is understood that Test cricket is the apex form of cricket and a Test victory implies so much more than any victory in limited-overs cricket. From 1877 to 2014, the Cricket world has witnessed more than 2100 Test matches, yet the question remains; “What is the greatest Test of them altogether? It is definitely the most difficult task to pick one among all. So here we are up with the list of 15 Greatest Test Matches of All Time.
Greatest Test Matches of All Time
However, we tried our best to select 10 best matches which took in some thrilling performances and nail-biting finishes. let’s have a look at 15 Greatest Test Matches of All Time.
1. England beat Australia by 2 runs (Edgbaston, 2005)
Scores: England 407 & 182; Australia 308 & 279
It was the match that characterized the excellence of Test cricket. For a large number of cricket fans, the 1758th Test was the encapsulation of what Test cricket could create. In a basic line, I can profess that this match had everything for a cricket sweetheart to move about. It was the closest run chase in 128 years of England-Australia matches. Pursuing the target of 282 runs, Australia was 175 for 8 when one of the fastest bowlers of all time, Brett Lee, came to join Shane Warne. This match now deserves its place among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
They put a robust 45 run partnership before Warne got out (Hit wicket) by Flintoff. They required 62 more runs to win the match with 1 wicket in hand. Australia’s last-wicket pair of Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz included a sensible 59 runs till Kasprowicz gloved one from quick bowler Steve Harmison to be caught behind and then the whole stadium was stunned.
2. India beat Australia by 171 runs (Kolkata, 2001)
Scores: Australia 445 & 212; India 171 & 657
Australia’s series against India in 2001 was Test cricket at its best and the second test in Kolkata was one of the greatest test matches of all time. It is ranked higher than the 1981 Headingly Test due to its quality. The 1981 Test was memorable because of individual performances but in Kolkata, the contest was between two good teams. It was the third case in Test match history that the side following on had won. Australia batted first and hit 445 with a brilliant 110 by Steve Waugh which lifted Australia from 256 for 8 to 445.
For India, it was Harbhajan who took 7 for 123 in 37.5 overs and became the first bowler in the 69 years of Indian Test cricket to achieve a hat-trick. Australia looked well set for their 17th consecutive test win when they dismissed India for a relatively low total of 171 in the first innings. Following on, India replied 115 for 3 before Laxman came to bat. He got one of the greatest knocks of all time with a brilliant 281run and shared a superb stand of 376 with Rahul Dravid. India declared the innings at 657 for 7. Chasing the target of 384, Australia were dismissed for 212 with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh taking six for 73.
‘My 281 altered the cricket world’s perception of India’ – VVS Laxman
“I knew that the pitch had nothing to offer. So I concentrated on bowling line and length with small variations. I worked hard and then God did the rest for me,” – Harbhajan Singh
3. England beat Australia by 18 runs (Headingly, 1981)
Scores: Australia 401 & 111; England 174 & 356
As per numerous cricket experts, this is the greatest test match of all time. The series is simply dubbed as ‘Ian Botham’s Ashes’. This was just the second time in Test match history that the side following on had won. At the point when Ian Botham landed to bat in England’s second innings, they were five wickets down and still 122 runs behind. England loses their next two wickets in speedy successions and it was all over for them.
Only then came an awesome inning from Ian Botham (149 not out from 148 balls with 27 fours and a six), aided by a fine fifty from Graham Dilley. The pair put a rapid 117 run partnership for the 8th wicket. Chasing the target of 130, Australia was cruising at 56 for one. Then an astonishing spell of 8-43 by Bob Willis shattered the Australian innings for 111. This match now holds its place among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
“One of the most fantastic victories ever known in Test cricket history,” – Richie Benaud
“If Botham had actually thought about what he was doing, he probably would have got out” – Peter Willey
4. The narrowest win – West Indies Vs Australia (Adelaide, 1993)
Scores: West Indies 252 & 146; Australia 213 & 184
This is the only Test match in cricket history where a team won or lost the match by a single run. Australia needed just 186 runs to win the match and was staggering at 102 for 8. A 42 runs partnership between Langer and Tim May for the 9th wicket took Australia to little closer, but then Langer got out with 42 still needed. Last man Craig McDermott wasn’t a successful player against fast bowlers and they believed it was all ended for them.
But surprisingly, McDermott gave a splendid backing to Tim May and the pair set up a valiant 40 run partnership between them. With 2 runs needed to win, Craig tried to fend off a bouncer from Walsh and was given out caught behind in controversial circumstances by Australian umpire Darrel Hair. This match now definitely deserves its mention among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
5. India tied with Australia (Chennai, 1986)
Scores: Australia 574 & 170; India 397 & 347
At the point when umpire Vikram Raju raised his finger to adjudge Maninder Singh leg before to Greg Matthews, the whole MA Chidambaram stadium was shocked as it witnessed the second Tied match in cricket history. This was one of the most eventful Test matches of all time. After the Australian captain and one of the greatest left-handed batsmen of all time, Allan Border, declared their innings on the final morning, India required 348 runs from 87 overs to win the match. Pursuing the target, India was inching towards the victory with the score 331 for 6. With 18 needed from the 30 balls, the next three Indian wickets were gone for only 13 runs.
India needed 4 runs from the last over with Ravi Shastri on strike. He scored three runs from the next three balls and thus eliminated the possibility of an Australian win. With 3 balls left, India required only one run with Maninder Singh on strike. He defended the fourth ball but eventually was given leg-before on the fifth delivery. The two Australian spinners took all the 10 wickets of India. This match also deserves its mention among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
6. England beat Australia by 10 runs (Sydney, 1894)
Scores: Australia 586 & 166; England 325 & 437
It was the first test match in cricket history where a team won the match after being forced to follow on. Australia put up a massive total of 586 to which England could just answer to a first-innings total of 325 – after which they were asked to follow on. A brilliant century of 117 from A. Ward gave England 176 run lead in the second innings.
Chasing the target of 177 runs, Australia was dismissed for 166 and Yorkshire’s slow left-arm bowler, Robert Peel claimed 6 for 67 to give England a surprising but exciting 10 run victory. It was the first Test Match to go into the sixth day. Without any doubt, this match deserves its mention among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
7. South Africa lost to England on the last ball (Durban, 1948)
Scores: South Africa 161 & 219; England 253 & 128
Chasing the target of 128 from 28 overs, England was 126 for 8 at the end of 27.5 overs. With three balls left any one of four results remained possible. Alec Bedser was on strike with Cliff Gladwin at the nonstriker’s end. Bedser leveled the score with a single and changed the end. Gladwin hit but missed the seventh ball. Afterward in a deep conversation, he and Bedser decided to race in any outcome except the wicket being hit.
As the bowler commenced his run-up, all the South African fielders ran towards the wicket to prevent the single which would win the match. Gladwin swung his bat, but again missed his stroke and the ball struck his thigh and bounced a yard or two in front of him. Before the fielder from the short leg picked the ball, both the batsmen changed their end. A drama came to an end.
‘Cliff and I agreed that no matter what happened we were going to run once the final ball had been sent down. I don’t think I have ever run so fast in my life!’- Alec Bedser.
8. West Indies beat Australia by one wicket (Barbados, 1998-99)
Scores: Australia 490 & 146; West Indies 329 & 311
Brian Lara’s unbeaten 153 against Australia in Bridgetown is generally and legitimately viewed as the best chasing innings of Test Cricket. Australia scored 490 in the first innings with the assistance of a splendid 199 innings by one of the greatest captains of cricket history, Steve Waugh. Chasing the target West Indies were 98 for 6 before a 7th wicket partnership of 153 between Sherwin Campbell and Ridley Jacobs took West Indies into a formidable position. The next day, West Indies continued their dominance by bowling the Australians out for 146, leaving a target of 308 for victory. When three wickets lost, it appeared the cause was lost for the West Indians.
West Indies’ position kept on deteriorating on Day Five till they were 105 for 5. Now Lara made his move, he produced one of the greatest knocks to overcome the mighty Australians. Finally, West Indies won by 1 wicket as Wisden put it, “he had guided his team to victory as though leading the infirm through a maze”. It was only the fourth time West Indies had scored more than 300 to win a Test match. Steve Waugh himself described it as one of the Greatest Test Matches he had ever played in.
9. Australia tied with West Indies (Brisbane, 1960)
Scores: West Indies 453 & 284; Australia 505 & 232
It was 14th December 1960, the day which will be forever remembered for the first tied test match in cricket history that was played between Australia and West Indies. Chasing the target of 233 runs, Australia was stumbling at 109 for 6, with about 120 minutes to go. Only the Australian captain Richie Benaud had some different thoughts for that day. He got magnificent backing from Allan Davidson, one of the best all-rounders of the game and the pair put a quick 134 run association for the seventh wicket. But the best scene of the match was the last over by the extraordinary Sir Wes Hall.
Australia required 6 runs from the last over and already they lost three wickets in seven deliveries. With the scores labeled, on the seventh delivery Ian Meckiff tried for a single and in this process got out by Joe Solomon’s throw from the square leg. After 83 years, this was the first time the cricket world witnessed a tied test.
10. Sri Lanka beat England on the second last ball of the match (Leeds, 2014)
Scores: Sri Lanka 257 & 457; England 365 & 249
After facing 122 deliveries for the 10th wicket, it was the second last ball from Eranga which prevailed over all the efforts that both Ali and Anderson brought out to save the match and gave Sri Lanka a memorable Test series victory. Anderson faced 55 balls over 81 minutes without scoring a single run and tried his best to save the match. Moen Ali scored a century in the second innings and got full backing from other English batsmen.
At the point when the ninth wicket was down, it simply seemed like a formality for Anderson and Ali to play as many balls as they could. The match ended with a high profile drama and at last Sri Lanka won the match with just one ball left. This match now definitely deserves its mention among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
11. The thrilling draw – India Vs South Africa (Johannesburg, 2013)
Scores: India 280 & 421; South Africa 244 & 450
Pursuing the focus of 458 runs from 136 overs, South Africa came quite close to breaking the world record for a chase in Test cricket. At the start of the fifth day, they needed 320 with eight wickets in hand and a draw was their more realistic goal. They lose two early wickets in the morning but then came a splendid partnership of 205 runs between Faf du Plessis and one of the greatest batsmen of all time, AB de Villiers.
By the time both were dismissed, South Africa needed 16 runs from 19 deliveries with Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn at the crease. But shockingly they batted out 19 deliveries to secure one of the game’s greatest draws before Steyn smashed the final delivery into the stands over long-on but which decreased the run margin.
12. The Great Chase – Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets (Sharjah, 2014)
Scores: Sri Lanka 428 & 214; Pakistan 341 & 302
Who would have imagined that four days of dull Test cricket would suddenly transform into a thriller on day five at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium? Pakistani batsmen displayed an incredible batting performance after lunch on the final day, when they scored 302 runs in 57.3 overs to sucker-punch Sri Lanka and won the match with a run-rate of 5.25 per over in the fourth innings.
For Pakistan, Azhar Ali played brilliant innings of 103 runs and got brilliant support from the skipper Misbah-ul-Haq who also scored 68 runs from 72 balls. Pakistan required 195 in 35 overs at the beginning of the last session, and they had settled on a strategic choice to send Sarfraz Ahmed in at No.5, shortly before the tea break. He played his natural game and attacked Rangana Herath several times during his innings. He scored a brilliant 48 from 46 balls and Pakistan won the match with one over to go.
13. Australia beat England by 7 wickets (Headingley, 1948)
Scores: England 496 & 365; Australia 458 & 404
It was the first instance in cricket history where a team scored more than 400 runs in the fourth innings to win a Test match. England captain Norman Yardley confidently declared their second innings at 365 for 8 setting Australia the exceptionally impossible assignment of scoring 404 runs to win in 344 minutes. This match now also holds its place among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
At the same time, England’s bowling and fielding fell apart, with wicketkeeper Godfrey Evans missing an easy stumping off Arthur Morris, and Bradman twice dropped. Both the batsmen went on to make hundreds and Australia won the match with 13 minutes to spare.
14. Australia beat England by seven runs (The Oval, 1882 – The ashes are born)
Scores: Australia 63 & 122; England 101 & 77
It was Australia’s first test victory over England. The English side had lost the anterior tour to Australia, but till then had remained undefeated at home by visiting Australian sides. After winning the toss, Australia opted to bat first and the whole Australian innings dismissed for 63 in 80 overs, taking just over 2 hours. As England commenced their run chase, Australian bowler Fred Spofforth ruined the English innings by taking 7 wickets and restricted England for 101.
In the second innings, Australia lost all their wickets in 122 runs in 63 overs, an overall lead of 84 which betokens England needed just 85 runs to win the match. But like the first innings, Spofforth again engendered another deadliest spell by taking 7 wickets and England was merely short of 8 runs from their victory.
After the loss from Australia, England was widely decried in the English media. The Sporting Times stated that English cricket had died, and the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media then dubbed the next English tour to Australia in 1882-83 as the quest to regain The Ashes.
15. The First Test (Melbourne, 1877)
Scores: Australia 245 & 104; England 196 & 108
The first cricket match was itself a stunning one with some stupendous individual exhibitions. It was Australia who beat England by 45 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with Charles Bannerman scoring the first Test century. Bannerman’s 165 run innings still stay in the record book as the most elevated rate score by a batsman out of finished innings.
Pursuing 154 to win, England were skittled for 108, with slow bowler Tom Kendall taking 7 for 55. And without any doubt, this match definitely deserves its mention among the top 15 greatest test matches of all time.
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