What is Test cricket?

History of Test cricket

The first official Test cricket match was played in 1877, between national teams Australia and England in Melbourne. A dominant Australian team had won that match and then returned to England to claim yet another victory, which saw the English team seeing a lot of flak from critics and eventually led to the inception of The Ashes. Test cricket contests became a regular between the two teams before the likes of South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and others joined in.

After the Second World War, Test matches became a regular occurrence during the English summer and Australia used to visit them quite often. The popularity of Test cricket skyrocketed with more and more matches being played across the world. More teams started touring each other and while the first 500 Test matches were played in around 84 years, the next 500 took only 23 years. 

The power dynamics in the Test format has also seen a monumental shift over the years. What started with Australia and England as the specialists of the game, saw West Indies ruling roost for decades with some of the best players to ever play the game of cricket. As for India, the saying goes, “Cricket Is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the British”. From Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar and now Virat Kohli, India have seen some brilliant cricketers of Test cricket and their records speak for themselves.       

Rules and regulations of Test Cricket

With a Test match potentially going on for as long as five days with inconsistent playing conditions, it needs numerous rules to govern it. And over the years, the rules of the Test format have changed drastically. From the number of playing days to the elimination of a rest day between a match to the playing hours, Test cricket has evolved massively.

A Test cricket usually consists of three sessions in a day with each session having 30 overs. The session breaks are 40 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for tea. A Test match has two innings, meaning every team will bat twice unless there is a follow-on. A follow-on can be triggered by the captain of the team batting first if the team batting second trails the opponent by 200 runs or more. However, the decision to enforce a follow-on rests solely on the captain of the team with the lead. If the team chasing the lead fails to reach even after batting twice consecutively, then the team batting first is declared the winner.

As per rules, 90 overs should be bowled in a day of Test Cricket or 15 overs every hour, except for the last day when a match can get over sooner. Of course, overs are reduced in case a match is affected by rain, bad light or any other external conditions. In case of a change in innings on a day, two overs are deducted from the minimum overs to be bowled in the day’s play.

The introduction of a new ball plays a major role in Test cricket and a team can use a new ball after every 80 overs. A ball can be changed midway only if it runs out of shape. Among recent developments in Test cricket is the DRS (Decision Review System). Each team can use the DRS to challenge the umpire’s decision twice in an innings, and they can retain the review every time they are right.

The introduction of day-night Test cricket with the pink ball is another new introduction in the longest format of the game, which is played under floodlights.

ICC Test Cricket Men’s Team Rankings (Top 10)

1New Zealand222, 764126
2India252, 987119
3Australia171, 844108
4England353, 753107
5Pakistan272, 48192
6South Africa191, 67588
7West Indies302, 39680
8Sri Lanka272, 09578

ICC Player Rankings in Tests

Top Batsmen
1Joe RootEngland903
2Kane WilliamsonNew Zealand901
3Steve SmithAustralia891
4Marnus LabuschagneAustralia878
5Rohit SharmaIndia813
Top Bowlers
1Pat CumminsAustralia908
2Ravichandran AshwinIndia831
3Tim SoutheeNew Zealand824
4Josh HazlewoodAustralia816
5Neil WagnerNew Zealand810
Top All-Rounders
1Jason HolderWest Indies434
2Ben StokesEngland348
3Ravindra JadejaIndia338
4Shakib Al HasanBangladesh334
5Ravichandran AshwinIndia331

Who is the highest run-scorer in Tests?

Quite unsurprisingly, the highest run-scorer of all time in Test cricket is Indian batting legend, Sachin Tendulkar. Fondly known as the Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar has amassed almost 16,000 runs in the longest format of the game. Playing 200 Test matches in his cricketing career, which is the most by any player, is also a testament to his longevity in the sport. Tendulkar has 51 centuries in Test cricket and he retired with an average of 53.78.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting sits second in the list of all-time highest run scorers and he trails Tendulkar by over 2000 runs. In the third position is former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis with 13, 289 runs in 166 matches, which is praiseworthy given that he was bowling for his team as well.

Current Indian cricket team coach Rahul Dravid is also on the list with 13, 289 runs to his name in Tests, and is followed by former England captain Alastair Cook with 12, 472 runs in 161 matches.

PositionPlayer TeamRuns ScoredMatches Played100sAverage
1Sachin TendulkarIndia15, 9212005153.78
2Ricky PontingAustralia13, 3781684151.85
3Jacques KallisSouth Africa 13, 2891664555.37
4Rahul DravidIndia13, 2891643652.31
5Alaistair CookEngland12, 4721613345.35

Who has taken the most wickets in Test cricket

The undisputed king of bowling in Test cricket has been Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. The spinner has a whopping 800 scalps to his name in just 133 matches. He is closely followed by Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, who has 708 wickets in 145 matches.

Among the current players, only England’s James Anderson is among the top five all-time wicket-takers in Test cricket with 632 wickets to his name. India’s Anil Kumble sits fourth on the list with 619 wickets, but he is also the only bowler on this list with a 10-wicket haul in a single match to his name. Australian cricket legend Glenn McGrath sits fifth with 563 wickets in 124 matches and is only the second fast bowler on this list of all-time wicket-takers.

PositionPlayerTeamWickets TakenMatches PlayedBest bowling figuresAverage
1Muttiah MuralitharanSri Lanka8001339/5122.72
2Shane WarneAustralia7081458/7125.41
3James AndersonEngland6321667/4226.62
4Anil Kumble India61913210/7429.65
5Glenn McGrathAustralia5631248/2421.64

Team India Test calendar for 2021-22

Barring the World Test Championship final loss to New Zealand, the Indian cricket team had had a brilliant 2020-21 Test season. They turned heads by beating Australia away from home in the Border Gavaskar Trophy before absolutely dominating England on home soil. If that wasn’t enough, India then went to England for a five-match Test series and took a 2-1 lead before the tour was suspended midway.

Virat Kohli and his men will look to continue their strong form in the 2021-22 season, which starts with New Zealand visiting India for a two-match Test series. It will be followed by a tour of South Africa in mid-December, where India will play three Test matches.

Their 2021-22 Test season will finally end with Sri Lanka touring India in March with two Test matches in the itinerary among other matches.

DateMatchVenueTime (IST)
November 25-29, 2021India vs New Zealand 1st Test MatchGreen Park, Kanpur9:30 AM IST
December 3-7, 2021India vs New Zealand 2nd Test MatchWankhede Stadium, Mumbai9:30 AM IST
December 17-21,  2021South Africa vs India 1st Test MatchThe Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg1:30 PM IST 
December 26-39, 2021South Africa vs India 2nd Test MatchSuperSport Parl, Centurion1:30 PM IST
January 3-7, 2022South Africa vs India 3rd Test MatchNewlands, Cape Town1:30 PM IST
February 25-March 1, 2022India vs Sri Lanka 1st Test MatchM Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru10:00 AM IST
March 5-9, 2022India vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test MatchIS Bindra Stadium, Mohali10:00 AM IST