Most Test Runs in a Calendar Year Between 2011 – 2021

The accolade that comes with scoring most test runs in a calendar year was brought into focus by Joe Root’s stunning performances in 2021 so let’s now look beyond that and consider the records from previous years.

Most Test Runs in a Calendar Year

Going back beyond the last ten years and into bygone eras reveals some interesting statistics. Not surprisingly, some of the greatest batsmen of all time make appearances on this chart.

Using statistics up to and including the end of 2021, Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan is the man with the most test runs in a calendar year. Yousuf set the record in 2006 when he made 1788 test runs from 19 innings.

Included in that run is a highest score of 202 and the prolific Pakistani batter made no fewer than nine centuries.

In second place is the great Viv Richards whose 1710 runs in 1976 also came from 19 innings. During this run, the West Indies batsman made his highest test score of 291 and he brought up three figures on seven occasions.

Other notable batsmen to feature in the top ten include Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith and Sunil Gavaskar.

Most Test Runs in a Calendar Year Between 2021 – 2011

2021. Joe Root

There was a time in 2021 when it seemed almost certain that England’s Joe Root would break the all-time record for most test runs in a calendar year. At the end of 2021, had he been facing a weaker team than Australia he may have achieved that target.

Ultimately, Root fell just short of Viv Richards with 1708 runs from 29 innings. He made a highest score of 228 and hit six centuries across the year.

Joe Root
Joe Root

2020. Ben Stokes

2020 was a truncated year for test cricket but that shouldn’t detract from the magnificent performances of England all-rounder Ben Stokes. He made 641 test runs in a calendar year but the total came from just 12 innings.

Included in that run was a high score of 176 against the West Indies at Old Trafford. Overall, Stokes passed 100 on two occasions and he also made two fifties. His batting average of 58.3 in 2020 is the highest of his test career.

ben stokes
Ben Stokes

2019. Marnus Labuschagne

Marnus Labuschagne’s entry on the list is, perhaps, the most remarkable of all. When he travelled with Australia’s touring Ashes party of 2019, he wasn’t even included in the starting XI for the first test.

Labuschagne only came into the Aussie side as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith in the second test of that series. He went on to score 353 runs in four games and that tally contributed to an overall total of 975 runs in 2019.

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne

2018. Virat Kohli

An important international batsman across all three formats, India’s captain Virat Kohli finished 2018 with the highest number of test runs. He played in 13 games and featured in 24 innings which produced 1322 runs.

Kohli made five centuries in that sequence and his highest score in 2018 was 153. He also made five additional scores over 50 and his average came in at an impressive 55.08.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

2017. Steven Smith

Had Marnus Labuschagne not come in as a concussion substitute, it’s likely that Steve Smith would have scored most test runs in 2019. Two years earlier, the former Australian captain did set the highest mark with 1305 runs in 2017.

Those runs came from 20 innings across 11 test matches and they also included Smith’s current highest score of 239 which was made against England in Perth.

Steve Smith

2016. Joe Root

Prior to his achievements in 2021, Joe Root had previously set the mark for the most test runs in a calendar year. Back in 2016, he made 1477 runs from 32 innings across 17 test cricket matches.

Included in that total was another individual highest score. Against Pakistan in the English summer, Root made 254 in a knock that lasted more than ten hours.

2015. Steve Smith

Australia’s Steve Smith first appeared on the list of annual leading run scorers back in 2015. This is his best record to date with 1474 runs scored from 13 tests and 24 innings.

Included in that list are six centuries and a best of 215 which was made at Lord’s in the second Ashes test match.

2014. Kumar Sangakkara

The highest test total in 2014 was made by the classy Sri Lankan left hander Kumar Sangakkara. One of the most prolific batsmen in the history of test cricket, his 1493 test runs in the calendar year were made from just 12 tests and 22 innings.

A huge boost to that total came when Sangakkara scored 319 and 105 in a single match against Bangladesh at Chattogram.

Kumar Sangakkara

2013. Michael Clarke

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke was also the standout batsman when he inherited the skipper’s armband from Ricky Ponting. Clarke made the most test runs in two consecutive years with 2013 seeing him at the top once again.

The Aussie made a total of 1093 test runs in the year with four centuries and a best of 187.

Michael Clarke batting at the Oval

2012. Michael Clarke

Prior to his 2013 achievement, Michael Clarke had enjoyed a more prolific year. 2012 produced 1595 runs from just 11 tests. Included in that total is a first class career best of 329 which was made against India at the start of the year. This serious daddy hundred puts Clarke to the 15th highest individual score in a test innings.

That was one of five centuries and Clarke finished 2012 with a stunning average of 106.33.

2011. Rahul Dravid

India’s Rahul Dravid was such a difficult batsman to dismiss that he was given the nickname of ‘The Wall’. He was a consistently reliable run scorer throughout his career but 2011 saw Dravid make the most tests runs in the year.

Across the 12 months, he made 1145 runs with five centuries and a highest score of 146. That innings came against England at The Oval and was notable as Dravid carried his bat in a total of 300.

Rahul Dravid