Breaking new ground: The first Test centurions

Here’s a list of those who became the first players from their country to score a Test century.

Cricket's first superhero: England's W. G. Grace. - THE HINDU ARCHIVES

All Test-playing nations have registered individual Test tons, after Rahmat Shah scored one for Afghanistan in the one-off Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram last year. It wasn’t just a landmark game for Afghanistan for Rahmat’s 102; the team also gained its first-ever Test victory.

Here’s a list of those who became the first players from their country to record a Test century:

Afghanistan: Rahmat Shah is so far the only batsman from Afghanistan to have scored a Test century. His innings helped lay the foundation for his team’s first-innings total of 342, before leg-spinner and captain Rashid Khan took five wickets to catalyse Bangladesh’s surrender with the bat. Rahmat got out for a duck in the second innings, but the top order put a stiff resistance nonetheless as Afghanistan gained its first-ever Test victory.

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The 26-year-old Rahmat has been playing for a while now; he made his first first-class debut in March, 2013, a week after making his ODI debut in Sharjah.

Australia: Charles Bannerman became the first batsman from any country to score a Test century, in the first-ever Test played. In March, 1877, England took Australia on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and Bannerman scored 165 in Australia’s first-innings total of 245. Bannerman scored just four runs in the second innings as Australia folded for 104, but his team scraped through to a 45-run win.

Bannerman, born in Kent, England, played just two more Tests, the last of which was in 1879. He continued playing first-class cricket till the 1877-88 season.

Bangladesh: Aminul Islam played 13 Tests, but his first would have been his most memorable. It was Bangladesh’s first-ever Test match, in November, 2000. Aminul scored 145 after Bangladesh chose to bat; his side would eventually score 400 in the first-innings. Bangladesh’s second-innings collapse - Javagal Srinath and Sunil Joshi took three wickets each - meant it lost by nine wickets. Aminul scored six runs before being dismissed leg-before-wicket by Ajit Agarkar.

England: The famous W. G. Grace became the first English player to register a Test ton, in September, 1880, at the Oval against Australia. It was the first Test he played in, and he scored 152 to star in England’s five-wicket win. He would play 21 more Tests, and score one more Test century.

Grace played 870 first-class matches and scored more than 50,000 runs.

India: Lala Amarnath scored a century in the first-ever Test he played, against England at Mumbai’s Gymkhana Ground in December, 1933. It was the first Test of the first-ever Test series held in India. India had played just one Test before this one, at Lord’s in 1932.

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Amarnath’s 118 in the second innings helped India avoid an innings defeat, but England won comfortably nevertheless. He would play Test cricket until 1952, but wouldn’t score another century. India had to wait until the 1951-52 season for its first win.

Landmark ton: Kevin O'Brien celebrating after scoring a century in Ireland's first-ever Test, against Pakistan in Dublin in May, 2018. - GETTY IMAGES

 

Ireland: Kevin O’Brien scored a thunderous century in the ICC World Cup in 2011 to script Ireland’s famous win over England, but seven years later, he would also score Ireland’s first Test century, in the team’s very first Test. Ireland’s spirited resistance in the second innings, however, wasn’t enough to prevent Pakistan from winning the match.

New Zealand: Stewie Dempster played 10 Tests for New Zealand and scored two centuries, the first of which was the first-ever Test century scored by a New Zealander. In the second Test of England’s tour of New Zealand in January, 1930, Dempster scored 136 in a drawn contest in Wellington. His opening partner, Jackie Mills, also scored a century.

Dempster played first-class cricket until 1947-48 and died aged 70 in 1974.

Pakistan: Nazar Mohammad became the first Pakistani batsman to score a Test century in October, 1952, against India in Lucknow. He scored 124 in the first innings after seamer Fazal Mahmood’s five wickets restricted India to 106. Pakistan would go on to win by an innings. Nazar played first-class cricket until 1952-53.

South Africa: In April, 1899, Jimmy Sinclair became the first person from South Africa to score a Test ton. It was the 59th Test ever played, the second Test at Cape Town of England’s tour of South Africa. In the first innings, Sinclair scored 106 but the rest of the batting crumbled around him as South Africa was bundled out for 177. England would win by 210 runs.

The 106 would remain his highest Test score Sinclair went on to add two more Test tons to his tally, both in 1902. His last Test was in 1911, and he died two years later, aged 36.

Sri Lanka: Sidath Wettimuny was part of Sri Lanka’s historic first Test - the one-off Test in Colombo against England in February, 1982. About a month later, he scored a century in Faisalabad in the second Test of Sri Lanka’s Pakistan tour - the first by a Sri Lankan. Wettimuny’s 157 laid the foundation for Sri Lanka’s strong total of 454 in the first innings; despite taking a sizeable lead, however, the match would be drawn.

Wettimuny scored one more Test ton in his career. He played first-class cricket until 1987-88.

West Indies: Clifford Roach played in West Indies’ first-ever Test match, at Lord’s in June, 1928. In Barbados in January, 1930, he became the first West Indian to score a Test century. His 122 helped West Indies put up a first-innings total of 369, and the contest would be drawn.

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A month later, in the third Test of the same series, Roach scored a double-century as West Indies won by 289 runs in Georgetown, Guyana. It was West Indies’ first-ever Test win.

Zimbabwe: In Zimbabwe’s first-ever Test, against India in Harare in 1992, Dave Houghton became the first Zimbabwean to score a Test century. His 121 wasn’t enough for a win, however. His second Test ton was a double, against Sri Lanka in Bulawayo, and he scored two more centuries until his Test career wound up in 1997.

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