For a long time in its history, crease occupation was one of the most important tasks of any batsman who played Test cricket and although it might still be the case in some cases, it is no longer a prerequisite. Even then, Test cricket was replete with epic innings from a variety of batsmen over the course of its history and some of them were marathon innings.
Although a long innings used to be defined by the number of hours that a batsman batted for when cricket first began, the number of balls faced is perhaps a better metric of the length of an innings. After all, actually facing up to deliveries is what batting is all about. So here is a look at five of the longest innings in Test by the number of deliveries faced.
#5 Gary Kirsten 275 off 642 deliveries v England at Durban, 1999
After England scored 366 in their first innings of the Boxing Day Test in 1999, South Africa were shot out for 154 in 50.5 overs thanks to a seven-wicket burst from Andrew Caddick. They were then asked to follow on. With more than two days to go, they had their work cut out if they were to save the Test match on a fast and bouncy Durban pitch.
Enter Gary Kirsten and his epic innings that completely shut England out of the game. An attack consisting of Caddick, Andrew Flintoff, Chris Silverwood and Darren Gough must have been fast and nasty, but nothing got to him as he soaked up the pressure. Kirsten's technique, patience and the ability to bat for a long time made it one of the greatest innings ever played by a South African batsman.
He batted for close to 15 hours and consumed as many as 642 deliveries to save the Test for his team. It is the fifth longest innings in Test history in terms of balls faced. When he was finally dismissed, the match was called off and the two teams shook hands.