Since readmission in 1992, South Africa have produced some of the best batsmen in test match cricket. Here is a list of the highest individual scores by South Africans in the longest form of the international game.
Top 5 Highest Individual Scores by South Africans
Hashim Amla – 311* – vs England in 2012
To date, Hashim Amla is the only South African batter to have made a triple century in test cricket. He has always been known for his prolific and patient run scoring and this historic effort came against England at The Oval in 2012.
Amla batted for 790 minutes and hit 35 fours in his unbeaten 311. He scored almost half of his team’s runs in their total of 637/2 declared, which helped South Africa to win by an innings and 12 runs.
AB de Villiers – 278* – vs Pakistan in 2010
Prior to Hashim Amla’s marathon effort, AB De Villiers was South Africa’s individual record holder with this knock of 278 against Pakistan. We know that AB could score quickly in limited overs cricket, but this was a much more patient effort, coming from 418 deliveries in just over ten hours.
The innings included 23 fours and six sixes, but De Villiers couldn’t help to force a win and the game ended in a tame draw.
Graeme Smith – 277 – vs England in 2003
Captain Graeme Smith was a run machine on South Africa’s tour of England in 2003. His best effort in the series came in the very first test which was held at Edgbaston.
Smith made 277 in his team’s total of 594/5 declared and his innings, which included 35 fours, took 541 minutes. This was another test which ultimately ended in a draw on a high scoring surface.
Daryll Cullinan – 275* vs New Zealand in 1999
Two South African batters have made 275 in a test match. I’ll list Daryll Cullinan first as his innings was undefeated, so he had the potential to go on and make an even higher score.
Cullinan’s knock came in Auckland when South Africa took on New Zealand in February 1999. South Africa batted first and made 621/5 declared, thanks mainly to Daryll Cullinan’s unbeaten 275.
He came in at number four and batted for a total of 658 minutes. The innings contained 27 fours and 2 sixes.
With Gary Kirsten scoring 128, the tourists were able to set up a big total, but it wasn’t enough to win the match. New Zealand were all out for 352 in their first innings, but made 244/3 second time around to force a draw.
Gary Kirsten – 275 vs England in 1999
Gary Kirsten’s 275 came later in 1999, at a time when he was one of the most prolific batsmen in the game. This was the Boxing Day test in Durban against an England side who had struggled for the majority of their tour.
England would, however, have the upper hand at the start of the game. The tourists made 366/9 declared and South Africa had to follow on after being dismissed for just 156. Kirsten intervened with his score of 275 which came in 878 minutes. He faced 642 balls and scored 26 fours as South Africa scored 572/7 to escape with a draw.
It’s interesting to identify any patterns with lists of this kind. Three of these five scores came between 1999 and 2003 when South Africa were one of the dominant forces in the red ball game.
You may have also noticed that all of these scores have come since readmission in the 1990s. For the record, South Africa’s highest individual score prior to their ban was 274, which was compiled by Graeme Pollock against Australia in Durban in 1970.
As always, the challenge is there for the next generation to join the list. Who will break into the top five in the years to come?