South Africa’s Highest Scores in Tests

It’s time to take a look at team records set by South Africa. Here are the highest totals made by the country in test match cricket.

Top 5 Highest Scores in International Test Cricket

South Africa v England – 682/6d – Lord’s, 31 July 2003

At the time of writing in early 2023, South Africa’s highest team total in tests is the 682/6 declared, which was made at Lord’s against England in 2003. This was a particularly productive period for the country with several batsmen liking to make big personal contributions.

Graeme Smith was the standout performer in this series and he passed 250 for the second time in two tests. He was eventually dismissed for 259, but a century from Gary Kirsten, 92 from Boeta Dippenaar and a significant total of 64 extras, helped South Africa to their huge score.

Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith, 2008, Birmingham

South Africa v West Indies – 658/9d – Durban, 26 Dec 2003

South Africa came close to beating their own record later on in 2003. The touring West Indies were the opponents this time, and the Boxing Day test in Durban saw the home side deliver a total of 658/9 declared.

Three batsmen made centuries in this innings: Jacques Kallis top scored with 177, while Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs also passed three figures.

West Indies made 264 and 329 to lose the match by an innings and 65 runs.

Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis

South Africa v Australia – 651 – Cape Town, 19 Mar 2009

Australia were the victims in 2009 when South Africa piled on a total of 651 in the Cape Town test. It was a score that would ultimately allow the home side to win by an innings and 20 runs.

Three players made hundreds for the South Africans as AB De Villiers top scored with 163. Ashwell Prince added 150 while Jacques Kallis made 102. Despite the best efforts of the home batsmen, the Player of the Match award was given to spin bowler Paul Harris who claimed nine Australian wickets across the two innings.

South Africa v England – 637/2d – The Oval, 19 July 2012

This total is notable for two reasons: Firstly, it comfortably sits in the top five of highest South African test scores, but it also contains the country’s highest individual score.

In this game, Hashim Amla made South Africa’s only triple test century to date, and he eventually finished on an unbeaten 311. Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis made centuries as South Africa declared on 637/2.

England made a respectable 385 in their first innings, but they couldn’t cope with Amla’s onslaught. Second time around, the home side posted 240 to lose by an innings and 12 runs.

South Africa v England – 627/7d – Cape Town, 2 Jan 2016

While South Africa made their fifth highest score in this game, the test will largely be remembered for England’s efforts. Ben Stokes made a brilliant 258 from 198 balls and he put on a staggering 399 for the second wicket with Johnny Bairstow.

ben stokes
Ben Stokes

England posted 629/6 declared, but South Africa matched them with a huge total of their own. The home side posted 627/7 declared as Hashim Amla top scored with 201. Temba Bavuma added 102 while AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis added significant contributions.

Not surprisingly, the game ended in a tame draw.

Final Thoughts

This is another list where we can find some fascinating backstories. It seems that Gary Kirsten was an influential figure in some of the early totals, while Hashim Amla took over later on.

They were two prolific batsmen for South Africa and it’s no great surprise to see them cashing in.

South Africa had a great test side from 1999 through to around 2012 but what about earlier scores? Before the country was readmitted into international sport in the early 1990s, South Africa’s record team total was the 622/9 declared that they made against Australia in Durban in 1970.

This was the game where Graeme Pollock made his highest test score of 274, which was also a record at the time.

Can South Africa produce more big totals of 600+ in the near future? They are regrouping after a number of high profile retirements, so it may take some time before this list is threatened.