Across nearly 150 years of test cricket, we’ve seen some very one-sided encounters. Here are the shortest test matches in the history of the game.
What is the Shortest Test Match Ever?
The shortest completed test match in the history of cricket came in 1932 when Australia played South Africa at Melbourne. The game lasted just 656 deliveries as Australia completed victory.
South Africa made 36 and 45 in their two knocks while Australia made 153 to win by an innings and 72 runs.
10 Shortest Test Matches in Cricket History
Australia vs South Africa – 656 balls, 1932
As we have just seen, the 1932 test at the MCG between Australia and South Africa produced the shortest completed test match to date. From start to finish, only 656 deliveries were needed for the Aussies to win it.
Teams that are dismissed for just 153 would not expect their team to win by an innings. However, South Africa’s dismal efforts of 36 and 45 made that happen. Bert Ironmonger took 11 wickets in the match while the highest score was Alan Kippax’s 42.
West Indies vs England – 672 balls, 1935
West Indies and England came close to breaking the record when they met in Barbados in 1935. The match lasted for just 672 balls as England won by four wickets.
Unusually, the match featured two declarations. This was because rain had affected the game and the two sides were looking to force a result. West Indies made scores of 102 and 51/6 declared. England responded with 81/7 declared before chasing down their target, making 75 on fourth innings for the loss of six wickets.
England vs Australia – 788 balls, 1888
Early test matches could be very low scoring and there are three current entries in the top ten that took place in the 19th century. The first of these came at Old Trafford in 1888 as a test between England and Australia was finished after 788 balls.
The great W.G. Grace played in this match and he top scored with 38 as England made 172 on first innings. Australia were poor in response, making just 81 and 70 as their opponents won by an innings and 21 runs.
England vs Australia – 792 balls, 1888
An earlier game on Australia’s tour of England in 1888 produced the shortest completed test match at that point. It was played at Lord’s and it was all done in just 792 deliveries.
It shows how volatile and unpredictable the sport was at that stage as Australia won it by 61 runs. The highest team score of the match was Australia’s first innings total of 116. The tourists made just 60 in their second innings while England responded with scores of 53 and 62.
England vs South Africa – 796 balls, 1889
Just a few months after that low scoring Ashes series of 1888, England were involved in another short game. As tourists this time, they took on South Africa in Cape Town in March 1889 in a test that took just 796 balls to complete.
England batted first and made 292, thanks mainly to opener Bobby Abel’s 120. This was South Africa’s second ever test match and their weak side had no answer. England’s Johnny Briggs returned the exceptional match figures of 15/28 as the hosts were dismissed by 47 and 43 to lose by an innings and 202 runs.
England vs South Africa – 815 balls, 1912
South Africa continued to improve from those shaky, early days, but they went down at The Oval in 1912 to England in a test match which lasted for just 815 deliveries. This was the famous triangular tournament that also featured Australia, but it was England who prevailed here, winning by ten wickets.
South Africa made scores of 95 and 93. England made 176 in their first innings while their second knock yielded 14 for no wicket as the hosts completed the win.
India vs England – 842 balls, 2021
The shortest completed test match of the 21st century to date took place at Ahmedabad in 2021. This came at a time when a vulnerable England side were known for some spectacular collapses and the hosts India took full advantage.
England batted first and made just 112 as Axar Patel took six wickets. The tourists may have felt they were in with a chance as they restricted India to 145, but England were even worse second time around as they posted 81.
India were left chasing 49 to win and they reached their target without losing a wicket in a test that lasted 842 balls from start to finish.
Australia v South Africa 866 Balls, 2022
The pitch at Brisbane came in for a lot of criticism when this game crashed into the top ten. This was a mis-matched series anyway with Australia much stronger and the two factors contributed to the most recent of our short test matches.
South Africa batted first and made 152 and 99 in their two innings. Australia responded initially with 218 and then, as they chased down a target of just 34 to win, they lost four wickets along the way. It was all done in 866 balls across less than two days.
New Zealand vs Australia – 872 balls, 1946
Cricket returned after the Second World War, but this 1946 test match didn’t hang around for long. At Wellington, hosts New Zealand and the travelling Australians played out a game that lasted for just 872 deliveries.
It was the only test of the series and New Zealand struggled to make an impression, being dismissed for 42 and 54. Australia declared on 199/8 and that was enough to win the match by an innings and 103 runs.
Pakistan vs Australia – 893 balls, 2002
Australia were a dominant force at the start of the new millennium and this was arguably their most emphatic victory. It should come as no surprise to hear that Shane Warne was at the heart of this win. The leg spinner claimed match figures of 8/24 as Pakistan were dismissed for 59 and 53.
It’s a batter’s game, however, and Matthew Hayden was given the Player of the Match award for his century. Australia made 310 as they won by an innings and 198 runs in a match that was completed in 893 deliveries.
Remember, these are the shortest test matches that have produced a result. In theory, the shortest game of all came in 2009 at Antigua when it was decided that the ground wasn’t fit for purpose after just ten deliveries.
Eagle eyed readers may have also noticed that I’ve left out the controversial test between South Africa and England at Centurion in 2000. That game lasted for 883 deliveries but it was a contrived finish and one that was subsequently revealed to be a part of Hansie Cronje’s match fixing exploits.
I’ve gone into that game in great detail elsewhere on this site. For now, these are the shortest, legitimate completed test matches. With the pace of cricket increasing, will we see any new entries on this list in the near future?