In the world of cricket, records are often broken and new ones are set. But when it comes to the shortest Test match ever played, the recent India vs. South Africa match has taken everyone by surprise. This match, played in October 2023, lasted only 2 days and 46.5 overs, making it the shortest Test match in 147 years. This record-breaking match has left cricket fans and experts amazed and has sparked conversations about the briefest matches ever played in the history of the sport. Let's take a look at five of the briefest Test matches ever played.
1. India vs. South Africa, October 2023 - 46.5 overs
As mentioned earlier, this match between India and South Africa set the record for the shortest Test match ever played. The match, held at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, ended in just two days with South Africa emerging victorious by 1 wicket. The pitch was a turning one, and Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took advantage, bowling out South Africa for just 58 runs in their second innings. However, the visitors managed to chase down the target of 72 runs with just one wicket remaining, giving India their shortest Test match defeat.
2. England vs. Australia, July 2015 - 111.3 overs
In 2015, England and Australia met at the Trent Bridge in Nottingham for the fourth Ashes Test. The match, which lasted just 3 days and 20 minutes, saw Australia delivering an exceptional performance, bowling out England for just 60 runs in their first innings. Steve Smith's brilliant knock of 215 runs helped Australia score a massive 566, and they eventually won the match by an innings and 78 runs. This was Australia's shortest Test victory and England's shortest Test defeat.
3. Australia vs. South Africa, November 1931 - 125.2 overs
This match, played in Melbourne in 1931, was the first-ever Test match to end in just two days. Australia won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 153 runs in their first innings. Bowlers from both teams wreaked havoc on the pitch, and South Africa's 'googly' bowler Bert Vogler picked up 8 wickets for just 66 runs. In reply, the visitors were bowled out for just 36 runs, giving Australia their shortest Test victory.
4. England vs. West Indies, March 2019 - 175.2 overs
In a bizarre turn of events, the 2019 Wisden Trophy match between England and West Indies concluded in just two days. England captain Joe Root opted to bat first, and the hosts were bowled out for just 77 runs. In reply, West Indies scored just 154 runs, and England was bowled out again for 246 runs in their second innings. The visitors chased down the target of 14 runs with just 2 wickets remaining, giving West Indies their shortest Test victory and England their shortest Test defeat at home.
5. England vs. Australia, August 1882 - 193.1 overs
Known as the 'Great Ashes Match,' this was the shortest Test match to be played in England until the infamous match in 2019. Played at The Oval in London, the match was over in just two days, with Australia winning by 7 runs. Chasing a target of 85 runs, England was bowled out for 77 runs, giving Australia their shortest Test victory.
While some may argue that these briefest matches may not have been the most entertaining, they were certainly historic and memorable in their own right. As the game of cricket evolves, we can only wait and see if records like these will be broken and how the sport will continue to surprise us. Until then, let's relish these moments and celebrate the unmatched passion and talent of players who make cricket the beloved sport it is today.