The game’s longest and the oldest format, Test cricket has made massive strides in the last few years with cricket lovers taking some time off from their busy schedule to watch the action over the course of five days. While many matches in recent times have gone down to the wire, there were a few which finished within 3 days or even lesser, making their way into the record books of cricket.
The history of the sport too has seen such encounters which unexpectedly ended in a short period of time, robbing hard-core cricketing fans off the extra excitement and thrill. We will be considering few such Tests in the present article. In the below piece, we look at 5 shortest completed Tests by balls played in the long cricketing history:
1. Australia vs South Africa – 656 balls
It was during the 5th Test at MCG in 1932. Electing to bat first, the Proteas could only manage 36 in 23.2 overs in the first innings, where Ironmonger and Nash did the majority of the damage for the Australians, with figures of 5-6 and 4-18 respectively.
The hosts, in reply, posted 153 in 54.3 overs in their first innings, reaching there on the back of an innings of 42 by Kippax and 40 by Fingleton. For the Proteas, Bell, Quinn and McMillan picked up 3 wickets each.
The lead was a hefty one for the Aussies, and they made sure they wouldn’t have to bat again, dismissing South Africa for 45 in 31.3 overs in the second innings and winning the contest by an innings and 72 runs. Yet again, Ironmonger worked his magic, scalping 6-18 and helping Australia inflict a whitewash.
2. West Indies vs England – 672 balls
It was during the 1st Test at Bridgetown in 1935. Put into bat first, the home team posted 102 in 47 overs, where Headley top-scored with 44 while Farnes and Paine picked up 4-40 and 3-14 for the visitors respectively.
In response, England declared their innings at 81-7 in 29.3 overs, helping the Windies with some lead. It was going to be a low-scoring encounter and Windies now needed to bat with authority to push the opposition out. To everyone’s surprise, they declared their second innings at 51-6 in 19 overs and set England a target of 73.
The visitors did lose 6 wickets while chasing but in the end were comfortable, clinching it by 4 wickets and going 1-0 up. Martindale was mighty impressive for the hosts, who snapped up 3-39 and 5-22 in the first and second innings respectively to leave an impact.
3. England vs Australia – 788 balls
This happened during the 3rd Test at Manchester in 1888. Batting first, England managed a paltry total of 172 in 113.1 overs, where it was Turner, who did the damage for the Australians, picking up 5-86.
In return, the Oz were dismissed for an even lower score, 81 to be precise in 52.2 overs, handing the hosts an invaluable lead. Peel was the pick of the bowler for England, getting rid of 7 batsmen for 31 runs.
England rightly enforced the follow-on and further demolished Australia for 70 in 31.1 overs, winning the contest comprehensively by an innings and 21 runs. Once again Peel did the job for the home team in the company of Lohmann, who scalped 4-37 and 3-20 respectively to call it close.
4. England vs Australia – 792 balls
It occurred during the 1st Test at Lord’s, London in 1888. Australia, who batted first, scored 116 in 71.2 overs, where Briggs and Peel did the damage for England, picking up 3-26 and 4-36 respectively.
The home team, in reply, were embarrassingly bowled out for 53 in 50 overs, gifting Australia a valuable first-innings lead. It was Turner, who scalped a deserving fifer while giving away 27 runs and did the job for the visitors.
The lead was expected to get the best out of Australia, but to their disappointment, nothing of that sort happened as they were skittled out for 60 in 29.2 overs in the second innings, setting England a target of 124.
Given the assistance for bowlers, it was one heck of a task for England to chase this down, and it turned out to be the same as they were bowled out for 62 in 47 overs, handing the tourists a win by 61 runs. Both Turner and Ferris picked up a fifer, ending the game with figures of 5-36 and 5-26 respectively.
5. South Africa vs England – 796 balls
It was during the 2nd Test at Cape Town in 1889. Choosing to bat first, England managed a commanding total of 292 in 123.1 overs, owing to knocks of 120 by Abel and 59 by Wood. Ashley picked up 7-95 for the Proteas.
The home team, in response, were bundled out for just 47 in 47.1 overs where Briggs snapped up 7-17 for the visitors. The Englishmen rightly enforced the follow-on and went onto clean up the South Africans for only 43 in 28.2 overs, winning the Test convincingly by an innings and 202 runs. Yet again, it was Briggs, who shined with the ball in hand, snaring 8-11 and demonstrating his match-winning credentials.