Top five shortest Test matches by overs

India sealed a victory in South Africa within five sessions and 107 overs, making it one of the shortest Test matches ever to be played.

Back on March 15, 1877, Dave Gregory’s Australia and James Lillywhite Jr’s England stepped out to play the first ever Test match. The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground became the first venue to host a Test match. 25222 Test matches have been played as the kept growing over the years.

During this while, Test cricket has been a witness to several records. The recent Test series between India and South Africa turned out to be an absolute spectacle.

The Proteas won the opening Test inside three days to make sure that they stayed unbeaten in a Test series against India on home soil. However, India hit back in the second Test to show why they are deemed as a strong force in Test cricket.

Rohit Sharma slams ICC after Test finishes in five sessions

Shortest Test matches by overs in the history of cricket

India vs South Africa, Centurion, 2024

The match between Rohit Sharma’s India and Dean Elgar’s South Africa at the Newlands in Cape Town turned out to be the shortest Test match by overs in the history of cricket. Only 107 overs were bowled across four sessions in two days.

After opting to bat first, South Africa were bowled out 55 inside the first session on Day 1. Mohammed Siraj picked up six wickets to rip through the Proteas batting lineup. Thereafter, India took a lead of 98 runs after managing 153 runs in their first innings.

shortest Test matches
Jasprit Bumrah of India celebrates with teammates after getting the wicket of Marco Jansen of South Africa during day two of the International Test Series 2023/24 game between South Africa and India at Newlands Cricket Ground on 4 January 2024 – Photo by Icon sport

India lost their last six wickets with no run after once being at 153 for four. The visiting team, however, made a comeback by bowling South Africa out for 176 in their second innings.

Aiden Markram was the lone warrior for the home team after he scored a 99-ball hundred, the joint fifth fastest by a South African in Test cricket. Markram scored 106 runs off 103 balls with 17 fours and two sixes before Siraj accounted for his wicket.

India chased down the target of 79 in 12 overs to make sure that they avoid a series after losing the Centurion Test by an innings and 32 runs.

Australia vs South Africa, Melbourne, 1932

Back in February 1932, the fifth Test between South Africa and Australia at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground witnessed only 109.2 overs being bowled. It was then one of the shortest Test matches to be played in terms of overs.

After opting to bat first, the Proteas were bowled out for 36 in 23.2 overs. Bert Ironmonger was the pick of the Australian bowlers after he finished with figures of 7.2-5-6-5. Laurie Nash lent him support by picking up four wickets. None of the Proteas batters managed to get into double digits.

The visitors bowled the Aussies out for 153 in the first innings, but conceded a lead of 117 runs. South Africa could not make amends in their second innings and were bowled out for 45 in 31.3 overs.

Yet again, it was Ironmonger who made inroads into the opposition batting lineup with figures of 15.3-7-18-6. Bill O’Reilly picked up three wickets as well. Australia won the match by 72 runs and claimed the five-match Test series 5-0.

West Indies vs England, Bridgetown, 1935

The first Test of the four-match series between West Indies and England at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados was a witness to only 112 overs being bowled.

England, captained by Bob Wyatt, won the match by four wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the series. After opting to field first, the visiting team bowled the hosts out for 102 in 47 overs. Ken Farnes was the pick of the English bowlers with figures of 15-4-40-4.

Eric Hollies and George Paine picked up two and three wickets respectively. England, interestingly, declared their innings at 81 for seven, giving West Indies a slender lead of 21 runs in the first innings.

West Indies also declared at 51 for six, setting England a target of 73 to chase down. Manny Martindale picked up five wickets, but the visitors chased down the target in 16.3 overs. Wally Hammond stayed not out on 29 runs.

England vs Australia, Manchester, 1888

Back in 1888, England and Australia locked horns in a Test match that lasted for 197 overs. England won the match by an innings and 21 runs in the two-day Test match.

After opting to bat first, England scored 172 in 113.1 overs. Skipper WG Grace scored 38 runs. Billy Barnes and Frank Sugg made 24 runs each. Charlie Turner stood out for Australia after finishing with figures of 55-21-86-5. JJ Ferris and Sammy Woods picked up two wickets apiece.

shortest Test matches

Australia were bowled out for 81 runs in 52.2 overs in their first innings. Bobby Peel had figures of 26.2-17-31-7 as he ran through the opposition batting. Thereafter, Australia were unable to avoid the follow on after being bowled out for 70 in 31.1 overs.

Back in 1888, the compulsory margin to avoid the follow on was 80 runs. Bobby Peel was exceptional for England in the second innings with the ball after he picked up four wickets. George Lohmann and Jonny Briggs accounted for three and two wickets each.

England vs Australia, Lord’s, 1888

In 1888, England and Australia played in a Test match at the Lord’s Cricket Ground that lasted for 198 overs. Australia won the match by 61 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

After opting to bat first in the two-day match, Australia were bowled out for 116 in 71.2 overs. Bobby Peel picked up four wickets even as Jonny Briggs accounted for three scalps. Percy McDonnell and Jack Blackham scored 22 runs each for Australia.

England could only manage to score 53 runs in their first innings. Charlie Turner picked up five wickets to put Australia on the driver’s seat. JJ Ferris also took three wickets. In their second innings, Australia were bowled out for 60 in 29.2 overs.

George Lohmann and Bobby Peel picked up four wickets apiece. Chasing a target of 124, England were shot out for 62 in 47 overs. Turner and Ferris picked up five wickets apiece to take Australia through to victory. 


Rohit is an experienced cricket writer based in India