This article presents a complete revision of the historic Wisden 100 list of greatest Test batting performances released in 2001, and of the revised version, called the Golden Willow 25 published on ESPNcricinfo in 2018. In the 22 years since the first list was published, there have been many insights, suggestions and data revelations. In 2001, we had six months to create the list. Now we have had over two decades.
The new rankings, called Bat-100, presented in this article, incorporate many improvements, conceptually, contextually, and in terms of coverage – in breadth and in depth.
The basic idea remains the same – a bouquet of the 100 best Test performances ever. It is recommended that any reader who has not gone through my previous article, which provided details of the method used to derive the Bat-100 list, do so before perusing this article. Otherwise they will not know the basis on which these lists are drawn up.
First up, the most important table: the revised Bat-100 list.
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|MDKJ PERERA (SL)||965.2||153*||200||4||DURBAN||2019||SA||W|
|KR MAYERS (WI)||906.6||210*||310||4||CHATTOGRAM||2021||BAN||W|
|VVS LAXMAN (IND)||857.3||281||452||3||KOLKATA||2001||AUS||W|
|BC LARA (WI)||849.7||153*||256||4||BRIDGETOWN||1999||AUS||W|
|BA STOKES (ENG)||843.6||135*||219||4||LEEDS||2019||AUS||W|
|ME WAUGH (AUS)||837.1||116||228||4||PORT ELIZABETH||1997||SA||W|
|RN HARVEY (AUS)||836.4||151*||445#||4||DURBAN||1950||SA||W|
|DL AMISS (ENG)||829.1||262*||563||3||KINGSTON||1974||WI||D|
|IT BOTHAM (ENG)||827.2||149*||148||3||LEEDS||1981||AUS||W|
|GA GOOCH (ENG)||819.8||154*||331||3||LEEDS||1991||WI||W|
|PF WARNER (ENG)||801.4||132*||290#||3||JO’BURG – OLD||1899||SA||W|
|RE FOSTER (ENG)||795.2||287||541#||2||SYDNEY||1903||AUS||W|
|AW NOURSE (SA)||792.2||93*||219#||4||JO’BURG – OLD||1906||ENG||W|
|ST JAYASURIYA (SL)||787.1||253||348||3||FAISALABAD||2004||PAK||W|
|JV CONEY (NZ)||778.8||111*||243||4||DUNEDIN||1985||PAK||W|
|LD CHANDIMAL (SL)||768.6||162*||169||3||GALLE||2015||IND||W|
|SM GAVASKAR (IND)||768.6||221||443||4||OVAL||1979||ENG||D|
|DPMD JAYAWARDENE (SL)||768.4||180||315||1||GALLE||2012||ENG||W|
|MA ATHERTON (ENG)||764.7||185*||492||4||JO’BURG-NEW||1995||SA||D|
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|HANIF MOHAMMAD (PAK)||764.2||337||982#||3||BRIDGETOWN||1958||WI||D|
|AC GILCHRIST (AUS)||763.2||149*||163||4||HOBART||1999||PAK||W|
|BC LARA (WI)||762.0||213||344||2||KINGSTON||1999||AUS||W|
|JB HOBBS (ENG)||759.5||187||291#||1||CAPE TOWN||1910||SA||W|
|FDM KARUNARATNE (SL)||757.4||158*||222||1||GALLE||2018||SA||W|
No one should be surprised at the top entry in the Bat-100 table. Kusal Perera’s epic unbeaten 153, scored away from home, against an all-time great bowling attack, chasing a 300-plus target. Perera came in at 52 for 3, saw wickets fall regularly, and finally took the team to a win from 226 for 9 with a 78-run stand. I would say that this innings is comparable to Viv Richards’ unbeaten 189 in ODIs – which emerges on top in almost every analysis of the greatest ODI batting performances. Fittingly, Perera’s innings has a 50-plus points lead over the second-placed innings. I can confidently say that irrespective of the parameters used and their weights, and the methodology, this classic will stay on top.
The No. 2 innings involves a batter making his debut in a tough away Test against crafty opponents. His team had a huge target of 395 to chase, on a turning pitch. He walked in with a 21% chance of a win and played an innings of multiple lifetimes, scoring 210 out of the 336 added, taking his side to one of the greatest wins by a visiting team in Asia. That is what Kyle Mayers did. He deservedly takes the second place in the table. He too is just about 50 points ahead of the next-placed innings.
In third place is one of the most popular innings of all time. VVS Laxman’s 281 against a good bowling side, against a team rolling in with 16 wins and after following on is the stuff of fantasy. The impact this innings had on the cricket-scape of India is immeasurable. Perhaps a couple of minor points that watered down Laxman’s innings were the magnificent support provided by Rahul Dravid and the margin of India’s win.
A mirror image of the No. 1 innings in many ways, including the score itself, Brian Lara’s all-time classic of 153 not out against Australia in Port-of-Spain takes fourth place. While his and Perera’s innings are similar in many ways, the most significant difference is that West Indies were playing at home. And the crucial runs were added for the ninth wicket, not the tenth. The bowling was no less formidable and the situation equally tough.
In fifth place is another fourth-innings classic – Ben Stokes’ match-winning 135 not out against Australia – after an England first-innings score of 67 and in the face of a dire 286 for 9, a win still 73 runs away (though when Stokes came in, England were at a reasonable 141 for 3). Four of the top five innings on the Bat-100 table are from fourth innings where the team batting last won.
Mark Waugh’s beautifully crafted 116, which anchored a tough chase of 270 in a match with a low Pitch Quotient index (PQI) against South Africa is next.
Neil Harvey’s classic of 151 not out, coming in at 59 for 3 in a 336-run chase, after Australia were dismissed for 75 in the first innings, is in the next place.
The next four performances all came in the third innings of matches. Dennis Amiss’ 563-ball marathon against West Indies that single-handedly saved the match for England is in eighth place. Only one other batter played over 100 balls in that innings, and only just.
The ninth-placed innings is Ian Botham’s unforgettable 149 not out after coming in at 105 for 5 at Headingley in 1981. However, the real match-winner in that game was Bob Willis, with his 8 for 43 in the final innings.
Graham Gooch’s masterpiece of 154 not out against a hard-as-nails West Indian attack is placed next.
The interesting entries among the next 15 innings are Dave Nourse’s unbeaten 93 (the only sub-100 innings), Mahela Jayawardene’s opening-day masterclass of 180 against England, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s magnificent 138 not out in 2003, Sunil Gavaskar’s classic 221 that nearly took India home at The Oval, Mike Atherton’s marathon match-saving innings of 185 not out, Hanif Mohammad’s 16-hour epic of 337, Jeremy Coney’s tough, match-winning 111 against Pakistan, and Lara’s other famous innings, the 213 in the 1999 series.
Lara is the only player with two innings in the top 25. England lead this table with eight innings, and Sri Lanka have five.