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.
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, it will be noted when a batsman has reached a half century, a double century, a triple century and a quadruple century. 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.
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 Combined List of Players with the Most Centuries
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
The first century in test cricket was scored in the first ever game between Australia and England in 1877. Australia’s Charles Bannerman 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 century 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.
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.
Most Centuries in Cricket
As of 2021, the man with the most centuries in test cricket is Sachin Tendulkar. In a fourteen-year career, the Indian batsman 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.
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.
As with all of the records on this list, the statistics relating to fastest centuries are correct as of April 2021. Milestones in these instances are usually rated in terms of balls faced as opposed to minutes at the crease. This is a fairer way to assess fastest hundreds as a batsman’s scoring speed could be affected by losing the strike or any unavoidable delays such as an injury to a fielder.
In test cricket, the record for the fastest century currently belongs to New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum whose hundred against Australia in 2016 came from just 54 balls. The Kiwi was renowned for being a fast scorer and his quickest hundred came in his final test.
One Day Internationals
AB De Villiers is the man who currently holds the record for the fastest century in One Day International Cricket. The South African made his hundred from just 31 balls when his side took on the West Indies at Johannesburg in 2015.
De Villiers’ innings contained eight fours and 16 sixes.
Another South African currently shares the record for the quickest hundred in T20 internationals. David Miller set a new mark when he reached three figures from 35 balls in a game against Bangladesh in October 2017.
Just two months after Miller recorded that milestone, Rohit Sharma of India equalled the landmark. Playing for India against Sri Lanka in December 2017, Sharma also reached his century from 35 balls.
In 2019, a third player joined Rohit Sharma and David Miller at the top of the list for fastest T20 international centuries. Playing for the Czech Republic against Turkey in August 2019, Sudesh Wickramasekara also reached the three figure mark from just 35 balls.
Fastest Double Centuries
Playing for New Zealand against England at Christchurch in 2002, Nathan Astle made the fastest double century in the history of test match cricket. Astle reached the landmark from just 153 balls and would eventually go on to score 222 runs from 168 deliveries.
The feat was a remarkable one in the context of the game as New Zealand came close to chasing down a world record score of 550 on fourth innings.
One Day International Cricket
Chris Gayle appears once again as we come to the fastest ODI double century. The West Indian left hander passed the 200 mark from just 138 deliveries in a match against Zimbabwe in 2015.
Gayle beat the previous record held by Virender Sehwag at 140 balls and he would eventually go on to score an undefeated 215.
As of 2021, there has yet to be an instance of any player scoring a century in the T20 format. With a maximum of 120 balls available to each side, it may be the case that nobody ever brings up this particular milestone.
However, there have been some very big hundreds made, led by the 175 scored by Chris Gayle for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors in 2013. When this list was compiled in April 2021, there had been four other scores in excess of 160 and the batsmen in question were Adam Lyth, Hazratullah Zazai, Hamilton Masakadza and Aaron Finch.
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 batsman to reach this milestone was Gary Kirsten of South Africa 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 managed to score a century 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