Test cricket is the oldest format, and that’s the reason it remains special amongst fans across the world. It is observed as one of the most robust forms of the game because it evaluates an individual’s character, endurance, stamina, and of course technique and skills.
Red-ball cricket has produced so many legends. To name a few, batsmen like Sir Don Bradman, Sir Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting have been a trendsetter and inspiration in their respective eras. When it comes to modern-day cricket, the benchmark has been set really high by players like Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson, Joe Root and others.
Basically, in the vast history of the longest format, several batsmen have scored a mountain of runs. However, there are very few who remain the leaders with maximum individual scores. Let’s have a look at the highest individual scores listed by batsmen in accordance with the batting positions in Tests.
1) Matthew Hayden – 380 against Zimbabwe, 2003
The Australian opener Matthew Hayden had played in the era when the Australian team conquered and wholly-owned rest of the teams. The astounding career of Hayden itself illustrates how remarkable he was as the top-order batsman for the Aussie squad.
The left-handed batsman appeared for Australia in 103 Tests and accumulated 8625 runs at an outstanding average of 50.73. He has also scored 30 hundreds and 29 half-centuries in his Test career.
Hayden’s one of the most exceptional knock came in the year 2003 when against Zimbabwe, the Kingaroy-born registered history. He went on to score 380 runs sparkled with 38 hits fours and 11 sixes. In that match, Hayden had also broken Brian Lara’s record of the highest score in Tests. However, a year later, Lara surpassed Hayden.
2) Len Hutton – 364* against Australia, 1938
The legendary Sir Len Hutton was widely regarded as the finest, most technically correct England batsman. He registered the second-highest score by an opener and third-highest score in Tests overall in his sixth game in 1938 when he scored 364 at the Oval.
Hutton had stayed at the crease for thirteen hours and seventeen minutes until the English team reached 770. His brilliant knock consisted of 35 fours.
In the process of getting to 364, Hutton also registered the highest score by an English batsman against Australia. It’s unbelievable that even after 80 years of the enormous knock, Hutton still holds the record for the highest individual score in the Ashes.
3) Brian Lara – 400* against England, 2004
The thrilling stance, high raised bat, bent front knee and perfect hand-eye coordination, Brian Lara, was an absolute virtuoso the cricketing world has ever seen. The Trinidadian cricketer was all class whenever he came in the middle and showcased some of the most high-quality display of batting.
Lara’s marathon knock of 400 at number three remains as the highest registered score ever in Test cricket. After coming out to bat at number 3 on the first day of the Test, Lara took only 582 deliveries to reach to this incredible landmark.
The stylish left-handed batsman hit 43 fours, and four sixes during his fantastic knock and West Indies recorded 751 runs on the board at the loss of 5 wickets in the first innings. He leapfrogged Matthew Hayden’s score of 380 and etched his name in record books.
4) Mahela Jayawardena – 374 against South Africa, 2006
The all-time great Sri Lankan batsman, Mahela Jayawardene still holds the record of reaching the highest Test score by an Asian captain and at the fourth position as well. The fantastic innings of 374 runs came against South Africa in 2006 at Colombo.
After electing to bat first, South Africa posted only 169 runs on the board. In response, the hosts didn’t have a great start as the Proteas bowlers dismissed both the Sri Lankan openers inside four overs.
But, the duo of Kumar Sangakkara and Jayawardene had some other plans. They completely took away the game from the visitors. Jayawardene scored a triple hundred, but Sangakkara missed out on his triple century by just 13 runs.
Jayawardene went on to make 374 runs off 572 balls. He smashed 43 fours and a six. All credit to his incredible knock that Sri Lanka had posted a giant total of 756/5 and later won the Test by an innings and 153 runs.
5) Michael Clarke – 329* against India, 2012
The talented middle-order batsman emerged in Australia’s golden years, Michael Clarke, was measured as one of the most prolific batsmen of Aussie cricket. During the second Test against India in the 2011-12 season, Clarke engraved his name in record books.
The New South Wales cricketer went on to play an unbeaten 329-run knock off 468 balls studded with 39 fours and a six. He also became the highest run-scorer at number five position.
The way, Clarke was going in the game, it looked as if the Australian captain could’ve easily added 71 more runs to reach Lara’s iconic world-record score of 400*. However, the Liverpool-born put his needs aside and declared the innings at 659-4. In the end, Australia won the Test match by an innings and 68 runs.
6) Ben Stokes – 258 against South Africa, 2016
Arguably the most exceptional all-rounder of modern cricket, Ben Stokes has written new definitions in the captivating game with his contribution from both bat and ball. The English cricketer is a hard-hitter and has the ability to swing the ball both ways.
One simply can’t forget Stokes’ fascinating innings of 135* at Headingley when he literally took the victory out of Australia’s hands in the 2019 Ashes. However, much before this in 2016, Stokes produced a whirlwind 258 from 198 balls against South Africa in Cape Town – the fastest England double-hundred in history and the second-fastest of all time.
Stokes went on to create a new record of reaching the highest individual score while batting at number six position.
7) Donald Bradman – 270 against England 1937
Perhaps the greatest batsman the cricketing world ever saw, Sir Donald Bradman, needs no introduction as to what kind of a cricketer he was. The Aussie superstar ended his Test career with a staggering average of 99.94 – most by any batter in the history of the mesmerizing game.
In the 1937/38 Ashes series, Bradman produced a gold inning which went into the record books and until today, no batsman has been able to sidestep the legend. After being dismissed at 13 in the first innings of the third Test at Melbourne, Bradman came to face the English bowlers in the second round at number 7.
The Don made ideal use of the unbalanced weather conditions, stroking his way to a wonderful 270-run knock. Bradman stitched an important 346-run sixth-wicket partnership with Jack Fingleton, which later turned out to be a match-winning stand as the hosts won by 365 runs.
8) Wasim Akram- 257* against Zimbabwe, 1996
The legendary Wasim Akram is recognized as one of the best fast bowlers in cricket. His capability of bowling in-swinging and out-swinging yorkers has shattered the defences of the world’s best batsmen.
However, the “Sultan of Swing” was not just limited to his outstanding bowling. Akram, in fact, has a record for his batting skills as well, which happens to be a world record. In the year 1996, Akram demolished the Zimbabwean bowling unit and registered the highest score by a number eight batsman in the history of Test cricket. Akram smashed a fantabulous 257 at the Sheikhpura ground in Pakistan.
Akram came in the middle when Pakistan were struggling for runs at 183-6. Being the captain, he took the responsibility and led his side from the front. He added a magnificent stand of 313 runs with fellow bowler Saqlain Mushtaq. Akram went on to make unbeaten 257 laced with 22 fours and 12 massive sixes.
9) Ian Smith – 173 against India, 1990
One wouldn’t be wrong to say that the veteran Ian Smith was one of New Zealand’s finest wicket-keepers to have served the game. In his 63 matches, Smith scored just two centuries but his second ton which came against India in 1990 will be forever remembered.
The Kiwis had lost seven wickets for 131 when Smith walked into the ground. He stitched a crucial partnership with Richard Hadlee and went on to score a scintillating 173 while batting at number nine.
In the masterful innings, Smith smashed 23 fours and three sixes and helped his side to post 391 on the board in the first innings.
10) Walter William Read- 117 against Australia, 1884
Regarded highly as one of the most stylish and elegant batsmen, Walter Read holds the record for not only the highest score by a number ten batsman but also the record for being the first number ten batsman to reach three figures.
During the third Test in 1884 at Kingston Oval in London, Read spent 113 minutes at the crease and got to his first test century in 155 balls. He also scored 20 boundaries in the process.
11) Ashton Agar – 98 against England, 2013
The last batsman on the list is Australia’s Ashton Charles Agar, who made history when he scored a 98* on his debut against England in the second Ashes Test in July 2013. Agar was just 19 years old when he made his international debut.
When he came to bat, Australia were reeling at 117-9, with Philip Hughes playing at the other end. Until then, nobody would’ve imagined what was going to happen. Agar dominated and smashed the English bowlers around the ground.
Agar was looking settled and was on his way to reach the golden milestone of becoming the only number 11 to score a hundred, but destiny had some other plans as the off-spinner missed the triple-figure by just two-run margin.
Though, Agar broke many records such as ‘youngest to score a half-century on debut’, ‘highest score by a number eleven batsman’ which still stands to his name.