HomeSportsCricketCricket’s Bottom Barrel: 5 Lowest Test Scores of All Time
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Cricket’s Bottom Barrel: 5 Lowest Test Scores of All Time

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Even the longest format of the game can have the shortest innings! Here are 5 lowest score in Test cricket.

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One of the most followed sports in the world, especially in the Commonwealth countries, Cricket has its roots way back to the late 1590s. Although cricket originated very early in England, the organised form of the game began in the 18th century. That is when it became the national sport of the country.

As the British Empire spread overseas, Cricket was introduced and saw major growths in countries like India, New Zealand, Australia, the Caribbean Islands and South Africa. The oldest and longest form of the game, Test Cricket is considered as the purest and most important form of the game. As the name suggests, it tests both mental and physical toughness of the players with the game being played for 5 long days.

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Since March 1877, when England hosted Australia for the first-ever international Test match, there have been over 2000 matches between 13 teams. And in these matches, the history books have been written down with many extraordinary and historical performances.

With the introduction of the short t-20 format, the game is now becoming faster, and high scoring by the day. The batsman is now more fearless than ever, and the pitches seem to support the same. Though bowling remains an integral part of the game, the focus has shifted from wicket-taking to economical spells.

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The lethal pitches and bowling attack from the early years of cricket is a rare sight in the current era. For the core cricket fans out there, here are the 5 lowest scores of all-time in test cricket, evidently each one being from the early days, which will help you assess the evolution of the sport.

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List of 5 All-Time Lowest Scores in Test Cricket 

Lowest Scores in Test Cricket
1) New Zealand | 26 runs vs England
2) South Africa | 30 runs vs England
3) South Africa | 30 runs vs England
4) South Africa | 35 runs vs England
5) South Africa | 36 runs vs Australia

South Africa | 36 runs

South Africa 1932 KreedOn
Source: Wikipedia

This dates back to 12 Feb 1932, when South Africa was coming off the abolishment of last British powers in the country. Cricket was on its way up in the new nation and the Aussies hosted the Proteas for a 5-match test series.

South Africa failed miserably in the series, losing all the 5 matches to the hosts. The visitors posted their worst performance in the last match at the MCG.

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They collapsed at a mere total of 36 runs in the first innings after opting to bat first. This also followed a failure in the third innings, losing the match by an innings and 72 runs after getting bowled out for 45 runs. Australia put up the whitewashed cup in their shelf and South Africa tried to move on from the nightmare.

Factually it is a tie at number 5 at the 36-run score, with Australia scoring the same against England in 1902. But we chose the above as Australia scored a run more in the second innings, with a marginal better run-rate. 

South Africa | 35 runs

1899 KreedOn
Source: ICC lowest score in test

This was 10 years after South Africa became only the third nation to gain test status. England visited South Africa for a 2-match series at the turn of the century in April 1899. After losing the first match, it was a must-win game for the hosts at Capetown. South Africa did a great job in bowling, restricting the English to a first innings score of just 92 runs.

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Also, South African batsman JH Sinclair batted brilliantly, single-handedly driving the South African score up to 177. But England replied back with authority, scoring 330 in the following innings, posting a target of 246 in front of the Proteas.

English bowlers finished the job early by bowling out the Proteas in just 35 runs. None of the South African batsman apart from the openers managed to score even 5 runs individually.

South Africa | 30 runs

1924 KreedOn lowest score in test
Source: Mullock’s Auction lowest score in the test

By June 1924, South Africa was a better team than before with the likes of players like Dudley Nourse, Claude Carter, and Herbie Taylor. The Proteas were touring England to begin the season and it was the first test of the 5-match series. South Africa opted to field first after winning the toss and followed was one of the most dominant batting performances of the era.

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Top 4 of the English batting order scored half-century along with a fair contribution from the following batsmen. England posted a giant total of 438 to finish the first innings. In reply, South Africa tumbled for just 30 runs in 12.3 overs.

Even English players were shocked by their achievement. The pitch literally had nothing compared to the nature of success their bowlers achieved. Although South Africa fought back with a mighty 390 after receiving a follow on, they lost the game by an innings and 18 runs.

South Africa | 30 runs

1896 KreedOn lowest score in test
Source: sports show lowest score in test

Looks like South Africa was the third friend in every trio (England, Australia and South Africa) who is made fun off every time in inside jokes. South Africa was clearly the weaker team in the 3 test nations.

This led to such disappointing performances in the early years. This one dates back to mid-Feb 1896. South Africa was bowled out for 30 runs in 18.4 overs while chasing a target of 319 runs.

The credit goes to a spectacular performance by the English great, George Lohmann who scalped 8 wickets on just 7 runs in his 9.4 overs.

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New Zealand | 26 runs

1955 KreedOn lowest score in test
Source: News18 lowest score in test

This performance speaks for the dominance of English bowling after the bodyline controversy. In fact, this is the only score that can be accounted for under modern cricket. It was a proper 5-day test match in Auckland March 1955 unlike the 3-day tests of the previous era. The black caps were the 5th nation to gain test status in 1930 but remained to win a match till then.

New Zealand opted to bat first after winning the toss in hopes of winning their first test ever. They started off well on a bouncy pitch with a first innings score of 200 runs. In reply, England managed to outperform the Kiwis, scoring 246 runs.

What followed remains the lowest score of all-time in the history of test cricket. The match was over before anyone expected. Blackcaps were bowled out just after getting to the quarter-century mark, scoring 26 runs in 27 overs. It took New Zealand another year to win their first-ever test match.

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What is the lowest score ever recorded in Test cricket history?

The lowest score ever recorded in Test cricket is 26 runs by New Zealand,

Which teams were involved in the lowest Test score match?

The lowest Test score match involved New Zealand and England in 1955.

Which team holds the record for the second-lowest Test score?

South Africa holds the record for the second-lowest Test score, which is 30 runs.

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Raghav Heda
Raghav Heda
Raghav is a sports enthusiast and a content writer at Kreedon. Being a former state-level cricketer and Captain of the Basketball team at IIT Patna, he understands the problems faced by a student-athlete in India. He is also a die-hard NBA fan and has been following the league and American Sports Media for long. Comparing the Indian sports economy to American Sports' was something that motivated him to work for the development of Indian Sports.



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