On This Day – Charles Bannerman Scored The First Hundred In Test Cricket & Then Created A World Record That Still Holds
England and Australia faced each other in the first ever Test match in the game’s history played at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) between the 15th to the 19th of March, 1877. The game was dominated by the Australian opener, Charles Bannerman who was interestingly born in Kent, England. Bannerman created history in the match as he faced the first ball, scored the first run, recorded the first hundred and also became the first player to be injured in Test cricket history.
Bannerman also set two records in the match which hold till even today. He scored 165 of an Australian total of 245 in the first innings of the match. The percentage of team runs he scored in the innings (67.35%) remains the highest proportion of team runs scored by any batsman in a completed innings in the history of Test cricket. It has been 144 years since Test cricket was born but the record remains intact. Bannerman dominated the innings with the next highest score for Australia a mere 18 by the number 9 batsman. As many as 6 Australian batsmen were dismissed for a single-digit score in the innings.
The closest any batsman has come to breaking Bannerman’s astonishing record was another Australian, Michael Slater in the Ashes Test in Sydney in 1999. Slater hammered 123 of the Australian total of 184 in the second innings scoring 66.84% of his team’s runs in what was a bizarre looking scorecard. The only other batsman who made it to double-digits was Mark Waugh with 24. As many as 8 Australian batsmen were dismissed for a single-digit score in the innings!
The third name on this list is of VVS Laxman who at the very same venue (SCG) in the following year scored 167 off just 198 deliveries opening the innings for India even as all the other batsmen crumbled around him. Laxman hit 27 boundaries during his majestic knock and scored 63.98% of India’s total of 261 in the second innings. Sourav Ganguly was the second-highest scorer at a distant 25 and as many as six Indian batsmen were sent back before registering a double-digit score.
Bannerman, incidentally, also created another record in the first Test ever played in the game’s history. His 165 remains the highest score in an innings by an Australian batsman on debut. Archie Jackson came agonizingly close in 1929 scoring 164 against England in Adelaide.
Bannerman played just three Tests for Australia scoring 239 runs with one hundred. Overall, he played 44 first-class matches scoring 1687 runs at an average of 21.62. The 165 on Test debut was his only hundred in first-class cricket too.