Top 10 highest scores on Test debut
Dhawan showed great batting flair on his Test debut against the mighty AussiesDebut for any player is one of the inevitable moments of his career. Since the inception of the longer format, the world has seen players carving their names on the honour boards in their very first appearance while a few have accomplished the mountainous task of scoring a century and even a double century on debut.While many have had debuts to forget, on the flip side of the coin, there are players who have had their inaugural match scripted in heaven. And thus we enter the write-up which features the top 10 highest scores on Test debut:
#10 Yasir Hameed (Pakistan) 170
There have been debuts where the batsmen have celebrated with a ton. But two tons? It was in 2003 when Yasir Hameed decided to join Lawrence Rowe as the only two players to score two centuries on Test debut.
Trailing a deficit of 288 runs, Hameed came in at number 3 and read the Bangladeshi bowlers well in his course to a half century. Post 50, he took control of the situation and unleashed a boundary gate to bring up his maiden century and subsequently his 150.
His 170 helped Pakistan take a 58 run lead, following which Bangladesh imposed a target of 217 on Pakistan.
Yasir rose up to the occasion again, playing fine shots that were found nowhere but in the book. He notched up another record century to his name and thus became the third player in the list of players who scored the most number of runs in Test debut (275 runs).
#9 Hamish Rutherford (New Zealand) 171
His debut was not a replica of his father’s, who was troubled much by the then great Malcolm Marshall, ending up with a walk back to the pavilion for a couple. After toppling the English for a paltry 167, New Zealand were all over England with their batting as well.
Rutherford’s innings came out of nowhere and is perhaps one of the best debut innings, in terms of the technique and stylish shot selection. It was not that the English bowlers were bad, but Rutherford made sure that he saw off their scars, whenever they popped up. His innings showed sheer confidence alloyed with back foot punches through the off side.
A wash-out on the first day meant that the outfield would be a bit slow, but it wasn’t for Rutherford as he raced to 171 with 22 boundaries and 3 sixes in just 217 balls. The match ended in a draw as England fought back well with two centuries from Cook and Compton.
#8 George Headley (West Indies) 176
We go back to the first few pages of the cricket book again when Headley steered the then vulnerable West Indian batting line-up to the shore, in 1930 against England.
Headley was the first of the black batsmen to don the national white flannels and a catcalling crowd did not make his first innings a memorable one. However, he sprung back strong in the second innings and was the architect of the West Indian scorecard, notching up a majestic 176 to set England a target of 287 runs.
The match ended in a draw, but Headley went on to amass 703 runs in the series with the crowd behind his back. His batting instincts and huge scores made him being dubbed ‘The Black Bradman’ and he did do justice to the title by ending his career with a resounding average of 60.83.
#7 Rohit Sharma (India) 177
There can’t be a romantic scene than seeing Rohit Sharma playing at ‘his’ Eden Gardens. For a crowd that came to witness the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar score a ton in his penultimate Test, it was the debutant Rohit’s that turned out to be a feast.
An in-form Rohit flavoured his innings with 23 boundaries and one huge six over the mid-wicket region, dominating Shillingford, who till then was the destructor of the Indian batting line-up. However, his 177 is one of prime importance as it was a patient and well-constructed resurrection innings that lifted a derailing India from 83/5 to 453.
After a controversial decision made Sachin walk-back, silencing the electrifying Kolkata crowd, it was Rohit who brought back the crowd to its feet.
After a phase in which the batsmen were tested and troubled by Shillingford’s spin, Rohit and Ashwin (123 runs) showed a matured gameplay by playing spin off the back foot elegantly. Rohit was the Man-of-the-Match which India won by an innings and 51 runs.
#6 Shikhar Dhawan (India) 187
Quite contrasting to his current form, Dhawan turned out to be the villain for the visiting Kangaroos in the third Test at Mohali in 2013. Mitchell Starc, Moises Henriques, Nathan Lyon and Xavier Doherty? “I shall send the ball to the boundary, no matter who the bowler is”, was how Dhawan announced himself on his debut.
He went on to blast the fastest century on debut by any batsmen, of just 85 balls. Michael Clarke’s attempts to keep his men patrolling all over the park were of very less use as Dhawan’s eyes saw just the gaps.
His shots rolled over the boundary line 33 times and flew over the line twice during his blistering knock of 187, which made a result possible in a match that was heading towards a draw.
However, luck had its role to play in order to make Dhawan a part of this list. It was the very first ball of the Indian innings. With Dhawan out of the crease at the non-striker’s end, no Aussie player appealed when the ball hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end after kissing Starc’s fingers.
#5 Brendon Kuruppu (Sri Lanka) 201*
Brendon Kuruppu’s valiant 201* is not just another one in this list or in the table of double centuries. When the flood gates were opened at regular intervals by the New Zealand bowlers on one end, it was Kuruppu who anchored himself to hold the string strong from the other.
His staunch double century lasted for a breath-taking 777 minutes and 548 deliveries, making it the slowest double century ever in terms of time and balls faced. However, the heavens opened up and played for a longer time than Kuruppu did himself.
The match eventually ended in a draw with New Zealand all set to build up the slender lead of 9 runs. Kuruppu’s Test career was not an enduring one, unlike his debut knock, and he ended up hanging his boots after just 4 Test matches played across 4 years.
#4 Matthew Sinclair (New Zealand) 214
It was the second Test between West Indies and New Zealand in 1999. After losing the first Test, West Indies were charged up and craving for a win to draw the series level.
The West Indian bowling army looked strong, spearheaded by the sturdy Courtney Walsh. It was in these situations that Matthew Sinclair trumpeted his arrival onto the grandstand with a grand double century.
His rhythmic and serene knock was orchestrated well to evade the threatening Walsh and saw just seven boundaries coming off the willow. The 447 ball long stint tested the patience of the visitors before Chanderpaul saw him off. But it was too late as New Zealand were already past the 450 mark.
West Indies shrunk to 179 in reply and were made to follow on, but the outcome was the same. The home side won the match by an innings and 105 runs and whitewashed the opposition comprehensively.
#3 Lawrence Rowe (West Indies) 214
This man from the Caribbean holds the record of scoring the most number of runs on a Test debut by any person - 314. It is a saying that ‘It is hard to beat the crocodile when it is in water’ and here the crocodile is none other than Rowe and the arena is Sabina Park.
In the match against New Zealand in 1972, pumped up with home energy, he went on to blast a 214 with 19 boundaries and one biggy over the fence, racing West Indies to 508 in the first innings.
After drawing the curtains to the Kiwis’ innings at 386, Rowe expressed his grief on not able to score more in the first innings by slamming ‘just’ a century in the second innings, giving the bowlers, the worst nightmare any batsman could ‘offer’ on his debut.
The match, however, ended in a draw, but Rowe had already stolen the show.
#2 Jacques Rudolph (South Africa) 222*
The second highest score by a Test batsman on debut came exactly hundred years after the table-topping score was recorded. A couple of shambled call-ups catalysed the hunger in Rudolph to make a mark on his debut and the result came as an explosion in the form of boundaries when an opportunity knocked his door.
Rudolph soothed his way to 222 with 29 boundaries and two sixes, adding a then record of 429 runs for the third wicket with Boeta Dippenaar (177 runs). Shrugging off the opposition, a barn Bangladesh, Rudolph’s innings remains a masterpiece. His skilful footwork was a privilege to watch and his silky cover drives were a treat for the eyes.
Bangladesh’s batsmen were no match for the Proteas bowlers, very much like their bowlers who were made to look incompetent by Rudolph and Dippenaar. Bangladesh eventually lost the match by an innings and 60 runs.
Had Graeme Smith not called for the declaration in the first innings, you never know, Rudolph might have been in the next slide instead of this.
#1 Reginald Erskine Foster (England) 287
The ‘century old’ phenomenon doesn’t seem to leave the picture as this legacy itself has scored a century now as the English man made this magnificent score in 1901 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It was the first Test of that Ashes series and Australia were bundled out for 285 in the first innings. And it was Foster who fostered England’s total to a mammoth 577 with a flamboyant 287.
On a lighter note, Foster lead Australia by 2 runs. The innings which spanned for 419 deliveries embraced classic stroke play bonded with supreme authority over the bowlers. Australia fought back with a lead of 193, but Foster had already done the damage to assure the visitors of a gettable target.
England went on to register a thumping victory by 5 wickets as Foster contributed with a 19 in the chase. However, Foster’s 287 remains untouched by the sands of time and shall remain the same for at least a few more years to come.