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Thread: 20 of the greatest Test matches ever played

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    Default 20 of the greatest Test matches ever played



    On the eve of the 2000th Test match between India and England at Lord's, here are 20 of the greatest Test matches ever played. Watch out for a separate list of Tests involving India.



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    No. 1: Melbourne, Mar. 1877

    The first Test match of them all ended in a stunning victory for Australia over their colonial masters with opener Charles Bannerman becoming the first to score a Test century. But it would be some years before the match was classified as the historical first Test.

    The English tourists were expected to romp to victory. But Bannerman thwarted them with a century that still remains in the record book as the highest percentage score by a batsman out of a completed innings. Half the Australian team were in fact born in England as was their best bowler, left arm medium pacer Thomas Kendall, who destroyed England's second innings with 7 for 55.

    England gained a measure of revenge by winning the return match two weeks later.

    Brief scores: Australia 245 and 104 bt. England 196 and 108 by 45 runs.



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    No. 2: The Oval, Aug. 1882

    Australia's Fred Spofforth, known as the 'Demon' was Test cricket's fast bowling superstar. Three years earlier he had taken the first hat-trick at Melbourne. Now with England requiring a mere 85 for victory, he tore the batting apart with his second seven-wicket haul in the match for figures of 14 for 90.

    Such was the tension in the closing stages that a spectator died of heart failure. England's defeat led a fan to place a mock obituary in a newspaper mourning the 'death' of English cricket and this eventually led to the creation of the Ashes urn which the two countries fight for till today.

    Brief scores: Australia 63 and 122 bt. England 101 and 77 by 7 runs.



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    No. 3: The Oval, Aug. 1902

    Coming in to bat with England gasping at 48 for 5 and requiring another 215 to win, Gilbert 'The Croucher' Jessop blazed to his century in 75 minutes, a world record broken only once since. But the home side still needed 15 runs more with the last wicket pair of Wilfred Rhodes and George Hirst at the crease. The two calmly chipped away to record the first single wicket victory in Test history.

    Brief scores: Australia 324 and 121 lost to England 183 and 263 for 9 by one wicket.



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    No. 4: Old Wanderers, Johannesburg, Jan. 1906

    Four years later and Test cricket saw another single wicket victory. This, if anything, was tenser than the Oval match as this time the last wicket South African pair of Dave Nourse and Percy Sherwell added 48 to take the home side to their first victory in their 12th match. It also provided the first instance of a side scoring the highest total of a Test in the fourth innings to win.

    Brief scores: England 184 and 190 lost to South Africa 91 and 287 for 9 by one wicket.



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    No. 5: Melbourne, Dec-Jan. 1932-33

    This was Australia's sole victory in the bitter Bodyline series which England won 4-1. They were routed by 10 wickets in the opening Test but were missing the services of their injured hero Don Bradman. His return for the second Test led to huge anticipation, but he was out for a first ball duck in the first innings.

    In the second his brilliant century gave Australia victory by 111 runs. But they were crushed 4-1 in the series that almost brought about a split in the cricket world. Australia's leg spinner Bill O’Reilly captured five wickets in both innings.

    Brief scores: Australia 228 and 191 bt. England 169 and 139 by 111 runs.



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    No. 6: At Lord’s, June 1934

    England have a wretched Ashes record at Lord's against their arch-rivals and had not won a Test against Australia at this hallowed venue since 1896. It took a record breaking spell of 14 wickets on the third and final day by left-arm spinner 'Deadly' Hedley Verity to break that jinx. He finished with match figures of 15 for 104. Tragically, Verity was killed nine years later on the battlefield in World War II at the age of 38.

    Brief scores: England 440 bt. Australia 284 and 118 by an innings and 38 runs.



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    No. 7: At the Oval, July 1948

    England captain Norman Yardley confidently declared the second innings at 365 for 8, setting Australia the highly improbable task of scoring 404 runs to win in 344 minutes. But England kept dropping their catches and this enabled opener Arthur Morris (182) and captain Don Bradman (173 not out) to amass 301 runs in 217 minutes and give Australia a comfortable victory.



    It was the first instance of a team scoring 400-plus to win and there would be only two more in Test history.
    Brief scores: England 496 and 365 lost to Australia 458 and 404 for 3 by 7 wickets.



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    No. 9: At Lord's, June 1950

    West Indies cricket has always built its bowling attack around pace. But that was not the case in this famous series with spinners Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine giving the West Indians their first victory on English soil and the series at 3-1. The win marked the first glimpse for English fans of the Caribbean style of dancing and calypso music and led to the famous song: 'Ramadhin and Valentine, those two little pals of mine'.

    Brief scores: West Indies 326 and 425 for 6 decl. bt. England 151 and 274 by 326 runs.



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    No. 10: At Ellis Park, Johannesburg, Dec. 1953

    Rarely has a side shown such courage in defeat. The Test was played under the shadow of a train accident back in New Zealand which claimed dozens of lives. Though beaten, the Kiwis won the hearts of the crowd with their courageous display with left hander Bert Sutcliffe slamming a heroic 80 not out in the first innings despite suffering a head injury. The fiery bowling of Neil Adcock injured a number of Kiwi batsmen.

    Brief scores: South Africa 271 and 148 bt. New Zealand 187 and 100 by 132 runs.



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    No. 11: At the Oval, Aug. 1954

    Swing bowler Fazal Mahmood with six wickets in both innings was Pakistan's hero in a low scoring match on a bowler friendly track in which the top score was 53. England needed just 168 for victory but despite a formidable batting lineup, crumbled to 143 all out, making Pakistan the first country to win a Test match on their maiden tour of England. The series was left drawn 1-1.

    Brief scores: Pakistan 133 and 164 bt. England 130 and 143 by 24 runs.



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    No. 12: At Sydney, Dec. 1954

    This was the series in which Frank 'Typhoon' Tyson was unleashed on Australia. Australia had won the first Test by an innings. But in the second Tyson came back after being knocked unconscious while batting to blow away the Aussie batting. His 10 wickets in the match were taken at a ferocious pace and helped England win this thrilling match and the series at 3-1.

    Brief scores: England 154 and 296 bt. Australia 228 and 184 by 38 runs.



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    No. 13: At Brisbane, Dec. 1960

    A total of 1,999 Test matches and just two ties and this was the very first. One of the finest series of all time kicked off with this magnificent match. Garry Sobers' dazzling century lit up the first day and was answered by Norman O'Neill's magnificent 181.

    But it all came down to the pulsating last day with Australia chasing 233 for victory. Wes Hall bowled the final over amidst mounting tension as Australia lost their final wicket off the penultimate ball with the scores level - a magnificent end to five great days of cricket.

    Brief scores: West Indies 453 and 284 tied with Australia 505 and 232.



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    No. 14: At Adelaide, Jan-Feb. 1961

    With the series level at 1-1 and the historic tied Test behind them, the two sides went to Adelaide for the fourth Test. West Indies had never won a series in Australia and they came within a whisker to taking a 2-1 lead, only to be thwarted by Australia's last wicket pair of Ken Mackay and Lindsay Kline holding out for 100 minutes. Australia won the fifth and final Test at Melbourne by two wickets to clinch the series 2-1.

    Brief scores: West Indies 393 and 432 for 6 decl. drew with Australia 366 and 273 for 9.



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    No. 15: At Old Trafford, July-Aug. 1961

    Rarely could a victory have looked more certain with England cruising on 150 before their second wicket fell in the second innings with 256 as the target. But Australian captain and leg spinner Richie Benaud switched to around the wicket and exploited the roughed up leg side of the pitch to return a match winning spell of 5 for 12 from 25 balls and bowl his team to an unlikely win.

    Brief scores: Australia 190 and 432 bt. England 367 and 201 by 54 runs.



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