On 10th April 2004 at Antigua against England, Brian Charles Lara scripted history by scoring the first ever quadruple hundred in international cricket which also broke Matthew Hayden’s record of 380 for the highest individual score in Test cricket. Twelve years have passed and Lara’s 400 is yet to be bettered.
A total of eleven triple centuries have been scored since Lara’s 400 with the most recent one being Karun Nair’s monumental knock of 303 against England at Chennai. Mahela Jayawardene came agonisingly close to breaking Lara’s record before falling on 374 against South Africa at Colombo in 2006.
A number of records in Test cricket have been created and broken in the last twelve years but the record for the highest individual Test score is still credited to Brian Lara. However, in recent times, a number of batsmen have emerged in Test cricket and with the kind of consistency they have maintained in the past year or so, there’s a good possibility one of them might be the new holder of the record for the highest individual Test score.
Here’s a list of five batsmen who are capable of breaking Lara’s 400 in Test cricket.
#5 David Warner
As far as Test cricket is concerned, David Warner is currently 7th in the ICC Rankings and has racked up 604 runs in 2016 at an average of 35.52 and an astonishing strike rate of 84.12.
Warner began the year solidly with an aggressive 122 off just 103 deliveries against West Indies at the SCG. In the next few months, he was able to get quick runs in 30s and 40s but couldn’t stay on the crease long enough but he got a few fifties towards the end of the year which included a 100-ball knock of 97 against South Africa at Perth.
Warner’s X-Factor is his flamboyant batting which helps him get quick runs up the order which gives Australia a steady start. The only thing that has kept Warner from scoring runs more prolifically in Tests is his inability to stay in the crease for long. However, he has shown on a few occasions that he can score quickly and at the same time, stay on the crease for long. One such instance is his innings of 253 against New Zealand that came in just 286 deliveries.
Warner’s aggressive batting gives him a very thick edge and provided he can work on his ability to stand his ground in the long run, he could have a very good chance of breaking Lara’s record.
#4 Kane Williamson
The current New Zealand skipper is considered to be one of the best batsmen in the world currently and has played some brilliant cricket in the past few years. Williamson has been New Zealand’s highest run scorer in Tests this year and the 10th highest overall with 753 runs in 10 Tests at an average of 47.06 and a strike rate of 53.40.
The Kiwi batsman had a very poor start in Tests this year as he managed to score only 16, 22 and 7 in his first three innings in the two-match Test series against Australia before scoring a patient 97 in his final innings of the series. Williamson batted brilliantly in New Zealand’s next series against Zimbabwe where he became only the 13th batsman to score a century against all Test playing nations. In the remainder of the year, Williamson played a couple of decent knocks against the likes of South Africa, India, and Pakistan.
Williamson, who is currently fourth in the ICC Test Batsmen Rankings, has the ability to play long innings which he has proved on a number of occasions. He’s a batsman who’s not very aggressive in his approach but can switch gears whenever necessary. He takes very calculated risk while batting which is evident by the fact that he hit only two sixes in Tests this year.
The Kiwi batsman’s versatility makes him a very dangerous batsman and provided he can prolong that, he could well be a top contender to score 400 in a single Test innings.
#3 Steve Smith
Australia have been going through a phase of decline this year but their skipper Steve Smith, who is currently the No. 1 ranked Test batsman in the world, has produced some brilliant performances with the bat in the past couple of years.
After a brilliant 2014-15 season where he was named both “ICC Cricketer of the Year” and “ICC Test Cricketer of the Year”, Smith has had a good 2015-16 season as well, scoring 914 runs at an impressive average of 60.93 and a strike rate of 57.44.
Smith began 2016 brilliantly, with scores of 71, 138, and 53 in Australia’s Tour of Wellington at the start of the year which was followed by a few decent performances in Australia’s disastrous Tour of Sri Lanka. After racking up some runs in the Test series against South Africa, Smith performed brilliantly in the first Test against Pakistan scoring a sensational 130 in the first innings and a steady 70-ball 63 in the second innings.
Smith’s biggest weapon in his arsenal is his unorthodox batting stance taking which he moves around the crease and controls the bat with his bottom hand which is closest to the blade of the bat. This stance makes it possible for Smith to play almost every shot in the book, including unconventional shots like the reverse sweep from even quicker deliveries.
While his unorthodox batting technique makes it possible for him to score quickly, his solid footwork and hand-eye coordination makes it possible for him to play elegant shots and also save his wicket. If Smith can find a proper blend of his attributes, then he could be a nightmare for any bowler.
#2 Joe Root
In the past couple of years, Joe Root has established himself as England’s talisman in all three formats of the game. Considered to be one of the best batsmen of the sport in present times, the Englishman is ranked No.3 in the ICC Test Batsmen Rankings and he is on the brink of finishing this year as the highest run-scorer in Tests, having scored 1477 runs at an impressive average of 49.23 and a decent strike rate of 60.70.
Root played some excellent knocks during England’s Tour of South Africa at the start of the year. After a relatively disappointing performance during the series against Sri Lanka, he played his best cricket of the year when England hosted Pakistan during July. In the first Test, the right-hander scored a career-best Test score of 254 in the third innings before scoring a quick-fire 71 off just 48 deliveries in the second innings.
Despite England being thrashed 4-0 by India at India, Root played a couple of fine knocks and was the highest run-scorer for England throughout the series and the second highest run-scorer overall.
His ability to read the game and play according to the situation is what makes him such a terrific batsman and allows him to play freely with calculated risk. If Root can maintain his consistency then there is a very good chance that he might break Brian Lara’s record of 400 for the highest individual Test score.
#1 Virat Kohli
No superlative is enough to describe India’s Test skipper given the purple patch he’s been having this year, both as a player and as a captain. Under Kohli’s leadership, India have been undefeated in Tests throughout 2016 and Kohli himself has been in stupendous form, setting new records and benchmarks throughout the year.
The Delhi batsman has been extremely consistent with the bat and has been racking up runs in quick succession regardless of the nature of the pitch on which the match is being played. Kohli ended 2016 with 1215 runs in 18 innings at an astonishing average of 75.93 and a strike rate of 60.41.
His first Test series of the year did not come before July which was the Tour of West Indies and began the series with the first double-century of his Test career. He did not make any other significant contribution throughout the series. He had a similar outing when India hosted New Zealand as barring a brilliant 211 in the final Test at Indore, he did not make any major contributions with the bat.
Kohli’s finest hour of the year came during the recently concluded Test Series against England where he was adjudged the Man of the Series and was the highest run scorer in the series with 691 runs at an astounding average of 109.16. During the fourth Test of the series, he scored his highest Test score of 235 which is the highest Test score by any Indian captain. In the process, he became the only Indian batsman and the fifth overall, to score three double-centuries in a calendar year.
Described as an aggressive batsman, Kohli tends to show his aggressive intent through exquisite grounded shots combined with perfect timing and solid footwork. With the kind of consistency he has been showing this year, it’s only a matter of time before Kohli betters Brian Lara’s 400 to hold the record for the highest individual Test score.