The fastest innings' in cricket history
Thanks largely to the growth of T20 cricket, batsmen are becoming increasingly more capable of putting up huge scores in record time. Aiding them further is the development of bats, which for a period of time seemed to almost double in size by the year. This has an impact on, obviously, T20 games, in which teams are now capable of putting up monstrous scores, but more indirect is the impact on ODI’s and Tests, in which players are now able to demonstrate their big hitting skills in a way we’ve never seen before.
New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi was the latest player to add his name to the record books. Playing for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, Ronchi managed 77 runs off just 41 balls to help his side comfortably chase down the 163 run total they were set for victory. He brought up his 50 in just the ninth over, having faced just 22 balls. This gave him the joint-fastest half-century in PSL history, but more impressively, one of the fastest in cricket history. The blistering innings brought back memories of similar innings, and we thought it would be a great occasion to look at some of the fastest centuries and half-centuries in cricket history.
Yuvraj Singh, 50 off 12
The fastest half century in International cricket history came at the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa. India played South Africa in this game, and after electing to bat first, got off to a pretty good start. After 16.4 overs, their third wicket fell – by this point they had amassed 159 runs. Enter Yuvraj. Yes, he started his innings late in the 17th over and still made a half century. Incredibly, he started with a dot ball, before smashing his second for four through the covers. The next over yielded a couple more four’s and a couple of singles, leaving him on 14 off 6 with two overs remaining in the innings. He promptly proceeded to hit Stuart Broad for six 6’s in an over, taking him to exactly 50 off just 12 balls. He added another 6 in the final over before falling on the second last ball of the innings for 58 off 16, having helped India to a total of 218/4. Unsurprisingly, they won.
Chris Gayle, 50 off 12
It won’t come as any great surprise to see the big West Indian high on this list. He matched Singh’s exploits, though this one was in the BBL, and in a losing cause. After the Adelaide Strikers set Gayle’s Melbourne Renegades a very gettable 170/5, Gayle came out like a man possessed. He took 26 off the first over, including four 6’s, and 17 off the four balls he faced in the third over. A 6 off the first ball of the fourth over took him to 51 off just 12 deliveries. Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t hang around for too long, and by the time he was caught off a top edge for 56 off 17 balls, the Renegades were 4/74.
Colin Munro, 50 off 14
Munro took a couple more balls than Yuvraj, but he still comfortably holds the second fastest International T20 half-century. This one was not quite as important as Yuvraj’s though – it was the second T20I of Sri Lanka’s Tour of New Zealand, and the visitors had been restricted to just 142/8 in the first innings. New Zealand’s openers were in a hurry though, and thanks largely to Martin Guptill’s 63 off 29, put on a first wicket stand of 89 runs in just 40 balls. Enter Munro. Needing 54 runs to win off 80 deliveries, he would have been forgiven for taking his time. Instead, he hit six 6’s in his first ten balls, and another on his 14th to win New Zealand the game and bring up his 50 in 14 balls. Incidentally, Guptill had set the record for the fastest NZ fifty just 20 minutes earlier in his innings. It didn’t last long.
Chris Gayle, 100 off 30
Chris Gayle again. Playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2013 edition of the IPL, Gayle constructed one of the most memorable knocks in history. As he often does, Gayle took it slow for a couple of deliveries, taking just one run off his three deliveries in the first over. He smacked a few 4’s in the second over, taking him to 21 off 10 at the end of the second. He didn’t face another ball until the fifth over, from which he took 28 runs. Things continued on this theme, highlighted by 29 run eighth over, of which he scored 28 in five balls. He smacked a 6 down the ground the next over to bring up his hundred in just 30 balls (RCB were on just 124 at this point). He wasn’t finished there, and ended up scoring an unbeaten 175 off just 66 balls, which included 13 4’s and an unbelievable 17 6’s. RCB scored 263/5, and won by an enormous 130 runs.
Rohit Sharma, 100 off 35
This is the fastest International hundred in history, and came from the only man in the world to have scored multiple double-centuries in ODI’s. Sharma opened the batting for India against Sri Lanka, and at the end of four overs was on just 10 runs off eight deliveries. He started to get going off the next few overs, but after eight overs was on just 47 off 22 (I say just because this left him with just 13 balls to make his next 53 runs). He then hit boundaries on 10 of his next 13 deliveries, including six 6’s, to take him to 101 off 35 deliveries. After a couple more 6’s for good measure, he fell in the 13th over for 118 off 43 balls, which included 12 4’s and 10 6’s. India would go on to score 260/5 and win by 88 runs.
David Miller, 100 off 35
If this list was longer, South Africa’s David Miller would feature a couple of times, having also smashed a century off 38 balls in the IPL. This innings, however, came on the International stage, when South Africa hosted Bangladesh in 2017. Bangladesh are far from the easy beats they once were, but South Africa treated them as if they were in this game. Miller came in on the last ball of the tenth over, with South Africa delicately poised at 3/78. He and Hashim Amla started relatively slowly, and Miller was on just 16 after his first 14 deliveries, and not looking comfortable. For those of you who aren’t mathematicians, this means his next 84 runs came in just 21 balls. He gradually began to build his innings, and in the 19th over hit five successive 6’s off Mohammad Saifuddin to take him to 88 off 31 going into the final over. He made his century off the fourth ball of this over, and South Africa finished their innings on 224/4. They won by 83 runs.
Invariably, the inclusion of T20 to the cricketing calendar has had an impact on the way Test matches are played. The long form of the game still regularly demands innings of extreme concentration, skill, and persistence, but explosive, cameo-type innings are becoming increasingly common. Of the fastest hundreds in Test history, two of the top four have come since 2014. Of the fastest fifties, three of the top four have come since 2014. Just a couple of years ago, Brendon McCullum, one of the most dangerous T20 batsmen in the world even after his retirement from the International Arena, smashed a century off just 54 balls against the Aussies. Around a year before that, Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq cracked a half-century off just 21 balls, also against the Australians.
Though there are of course instances long before T20 arrived of players scoring rapidly, they are becoming more common, and even faster. This will likely continue as T20 continues to develop, and will have a major impact on the way Test matches are played. Quite possibly it will result in less draws, as players have the ability to put up scores in less time, and may ultimately lead to the reduction of Tests to four days. This is purely conjecture, but it is certainly a possibility, and is a sign of the impact T20 has had on all forms of cricket.