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Top 5 Test opening pairs of all time

Krish Sripada
FEATURED WRITER
Top 5 / Top 10
16.26K   //    Timeless
Justin Langer Matthew Hayden
Langer and Hayden were key batsmen in the great Steve Waugh side

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:

Pair

Innings

Runs

Average

100s

50s

Greenidge/Haynes

148

6482

47.31

16

26

Hayden/Langer

113

5655

51.88

14

24

Cook/Strauss

117

4711

40.96

12

18

Atapattu/Jayasuriya

118

4469

40.26

9

24

Gambhir/Sehwag

87

4412

52.52

11

25

The top 5 partnership pairs in away Tests, where openers face sterner tests:

Pair

Innings

Runs

Average

100s

50s

Greenidge/Haynes

85

2948

35.51

6

12

Hayden/Langer

48

2222

48.3

5

10

Cook/Strauss

45

2070

47.04

7

6

Lawry/Simpson

35

1992

62.25

5

10

Atapattu/Jayasuriya

50

1840

39.14

4

10

List of top 5 partnership pairs in terms of away average. (Qualification: 1000 away runs)

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Pair

Innings

Runs

Average

100s

50s

Hobbs/Sutcliffe (Eng)

15

1202

80.13

6

2

McKenzie/Smith (SA)

21

1436

75.57

4

7

Hobbs/Rhodes (Eng)

28

1809

67

6

5

AF Rae/Stollmeyer (WI)

19

1204

66.88

4

3

Lawry/Simpson (Aus)

35

1992

62.25

5

10

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)

  • Cricket. Circa 1930+s. A picture of the legendary England batting pair of JB (John 'Jack' Berry) Hobbs (Surrey) and Herbert Sutcliffe (Yorkshire) walking out to bat at the Scarborough Cricket Festival. : News Photo
    England’s Hobbs and Sutcliffe
    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.
InningsRunsAverageAway average100s50s
38324987.8180.131510
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