What is a Century in Cricket? – Records and the Most Centuries

A century is one of the most important statistics in cricket. In the following article, I discuss the meaning of the term and its significance in a batsman’s career. Also keep on reading, if you are interested in our up-to-date interactive charts about players with the most centuries.

Centuries may not win games of cricket but, in a sport where the result is dependent on how many runs are scored by each side, they are vitally important.

Century in Cricket: In Short

The term ‘century’ in cricket specifically refers to one hundred runs within a single innings. A batsman is aiming to score a century as this is a significant personal achievement and it’s also one that is likely to help his or her team win the match.

Centuries can also be cited in multiples or divisibles: Therefore, batsmen can reach half centuries, double centuries, triple centuries and even quadruple centuries. The higher numbers are much rarer and there has only ever been one instance where a batter has passed 500 runs in a single innings.

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century against Australia, 4th Jan 2008
Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his century against Australia, 4th Jan 2008

The Significance of a Century

A century may be more significant for the individual player. As a batsman, their job is to score runs and the more centuries that they record, the better their chances of staying in the side. From domestic cricket, the progression to an international team may also depend on the amount of centuries that a player can score.

Cricket is a game that revolves around many statistics and, for that reason, a century is far more significant than a score of 99. During and at the end of a player’s career, those stats will be analysed and a list of their centuries will be shown. The quality of that player, as a batsman, will be measured by how many centuries they have scored.

In relation to the overall team score, centuries are less important but they still hold some significance. In all forms of cricket, the objective is to score more runs than the opposition and that’s unlikely to happen on a regular basis if players within the team are not making centuries.

Top 20 Most Centuries in Combined International Cricket

The following continually updated chart illustrates the top 20 players with the most international centuries combined. It’s interactive: You are free to switch Test, ODI and T20I cricket matches on/off, so to see how some of these top level cricketers fare if only one or two of these formats are taken into account. Also feel free to check out the data behind the player’s picture.

What is a Partnership Century?

A partnership century is achieved when two batsmen score a combined 100 runs when they are together at the crease. The division of those runs is not important and a century partnership will typically include some extras which are not credited to either batter.

Once again, a century partnership can also be discussed in terms of multiples and divisibles. Therefore, a commentator reporting on a televised cricket match may also refer to half century partnerships, double century partnerships and so on.

Century Records and Facts

First to Reach the Milestone

Test Cricket

The first century in test cricket was scored in the first ever game between Australia and England in 1877. The first batsman to reach the milestone was Australia’s Charles Bannerman who made 165 of his side’s first innings total of 245.

No other batsman would pass three figures in this game as Australia went on to win by 45 runs.

One Day Internationals

The first hundred in international limited overs cricket came in the second ever official ODI. England’s Denis Amiss was the man to make history as he scored 103 against Australia at Old Trafford in 1972.

Amiss’ century came from 134 balls as England beat Australia by six wickets.

T20 Internationals

Centuries in T20 cricket are much rarer and we had to wait a little longer for the first hundred in the international format. The inaugural T20 international took place between Australia and New Zealand in 2005 while the first ever century followed in 2007.

West Indies’ Chris Gayle had the honour, scoring 117 against South Africa in the opening game of the first ever T20 World Cup.

cricket century

Most Centuries in First Class Cricket

Test Matches

As of 2021, the man with the most centuries in test cricket is Sachin Tendulkar. In a fourteen-year career, Tendulkar made 51 hundreds in the test format.

Tendulkar made his maiden test century as a 17 year old against England at Old Trafford in 1990.

One Day Internationals

Sachin Tendulkar also holds the record for the most centuries in One Day International cricket. When he retired in 2013, India’s most prolific batter had made 49 hundreds in this format.

Tendulkar is, currently, the only man to have made one hundred centuries in international cricket. The closest challenger to that landmark at the time of writing is Australia’s Ricky Ponting with 71 while Virat Kohli, in third place with 70 hundreds, is the closest active player.

T20 Internationals

An Indian batsman also holds the record for the most hundreds scored in T20 internationals. With a highest score of 118, Rohit Sharma currently has four centuries in the international format.

Those numbers are correct at the end of the India v England T20i series in March 2021.

Test Centuries Against All Test Playing Nations

Another rare, but important milestone for professional cricket batsmen is to score a century against each test playing nations. The first to reach this milestone was South African batsman Gary Kirsten by scoring 150 runs against Bangladesh in 2002. Following Kirsten, the Australian Steve Waugh joined the club in 2003, then a year later in 2004 Sachin Tendulkar of India also achieved this groundbreaking record by scoring 248 runs against Bangladesh. As of 2021, there are altogether 12 batsmen who achieved this landmark score against all test playing nations.


Cricket is a game where numbers are everything and students of the game will have memorised facts and figures relating to their favourite players. For batsmen, the most important element of those stats is the century.

Every player, professional and amateur, will never forget the moment when they scored their first century. It’s a number that comes with a magical quality and in that sense it’s all part of the legend of cricket. But a century can also be crucial in terms of the game that is taking place. Scoring runs is at the heart of all cricket formats and a century on either side can change the course of that match.

The records listed in this round up are all correct as of April 2021 but landmarks are set to be broken and in the fast moving world of cricket, they may be eclipsed in the near future. So, keep checking back and remember to look out for more record breaking centuries in the months and years ahead.

Centuries are made through big scores, and that also means hitting as many sixes as possible. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that if you go on to our list of the longest and most sixes in cricket history, you will find some of the faces familiar.