Top 5 Test opening pairs of all time
- Every great side that has reached the No. 1 ICC ranking did so on the back of strong performances from its opening pair.
Picking the top 5 Test opening pairs of all time is not the easiest of tasks. With every generation, cricket passes through a paradigm shift. Attitudes change, pitches change, style of playing changes; the only thing that has probably not changed is the importance of openers in Test cricket.
Every great side, every side that has reached the No. 1 ICC ranking did so on the back of strong performances from its opening pair.
Runs alone cannot be the parameter or measuring gauge for the best opening pair, considering the number of runs scored is a function of the number of innings. Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss, for example, amassed 4711 runs for England in 117 innings, the third most number of partnership innings for an opening pair and the third highest tally of partnership runs. However, their average is a mediocre 40.96 although they do well away from home.
Similarly, another pair, Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya, added 4469 runs in 118 innings at 40.26, despite playing on quite a few batting-friendly tracks.
If runs is the only consideration, this is the list of the top 5 partnership pairs:
The top 5 partnership pairs in away Tests, where openers face sterner tests:
List of top 5 partnership pairs in terms of away average. (Qualification: 1000 away runs)
AF Rae/Stollmeyer (WI)
To decide on a list of the top 5 greatest Test opening pairs, we have given a higher preference to pairs who got the job done by scoring bucket-loads of runs while ticking three other boxes:
- # High averages
- # High percentage of fifty-plus partnerships
- # Good performances away from home
#1 Jack Hobbs/Herbert Sutcliffe (England)
- On the list of prolific opening pairs, Hobbs and Sutcliffe are 8th but they are probably the best opening pair the game has seen because they top the averages, both at home and away. More importantly, the duo had 25 fifty-plus partnerships in just 38 innings, roughly one every 1.5 innings showing how they rarely failed.
- They maintained the same level of consistency away as well, which is what a great opening pair is expected to do at all times. The pair were prolific all through their partnership and the most number of innings that they’ve gone without a century partnership was 4, which happened twice.