In the sport of cricket, a century is a score of 100 or more runs in a single innings by a batsman. The term is also included in "century partnership" which occurs when two batsmen add 100 runs to the team total when they are batting together. A century is regarded as a landmark score for batsmen and a player's number of centuries is generally recorded in his career statistics. Scoring a century is loosely equated in terms of merit to a bowler taking five wickets in an innings, and is colloquially referred to as a ton or hundred. Scores of more than 200 runs are still statistically counted as a century, although these scores are referred as double (200–299 runs), triple (300–399 runs), and quadruple centuries (400–499 runs), and so on.
Accordingly, reaching 50 runs in an innings is known as a half-century; if the batsman then goes on to score a century, the half-century is succeeded in statistics by the century.1
Centuries were uncommon until the late 19th century because of the difficulties in batting on pitches that had only rudimentary preparation and were fully exposed to the elements. There is doubt about the earliest known century, but the most definite claim belongs to John Minshull who scored 107 for the Duke of Dorset's XI v Wrotham at Sevenoaks Vine on 31 August 1769.2 This was a minor match.
The first definite century in a major cricket match was scored by John Small when he made 136 for Hampshire v Surrey at Broadhalfpenny Down in July 1775.3 The earliest known century partnership was recorded in 1767 between two Hambledon batsmen4 who added 192 for the first wicket against Caterham. It is believed they were Tom Sueter and Edward "Curry" Aburrow5 and it is almost certain that at least one of them scored an individual century, but there is no confirmation in the sources.
When Hambledon played Kent at Broadhalfpenny in August 1768, the Reading Mercury reported: "what is very remarkable, one Mr Small, of Petersfield, fetched above seven score notches off his own bat". Unfortunately it is not known if Small did this in one innings or if it was his match total.4 Hambledon batsmen Tom Sueter and George Leer are the first two players definitely known to have shared a century partnership when they made 128 for the first wicket against Surrey at Broadhalfpenny Down in September 1769.6
W. G. Grace was the first batsman to score 100 career centuries in first-class cricket, reaching the milestone in 1895. His career total of 124 centuries was subsequently passed by Jack Hobbs, whose total of 199 first-class centuries is the current record.78
The first century in Test cricket was scored by Charles Bannerman who scored 165 (before retiring hurt) in the first ever Test between Australia and England (played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 15–19 March 1877).9 The first century partnership in Test cricket was between W. G. Grace and A. P. Lucas, batting for England, in the first innings of the only Test match between England and Australia on the Australians 1880 tour of England, played at the Kennington Oval (6–8 September 1880).
The first One Day International (ODI) century was scored by Denis Amiss who amassed 103 runs against Australia at Old Trafford in 197211 (the second official ODI on record). Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for most ODI centuries, having scored 49 ODI Centuries
Chris Gayle holds the record for the fastest century in any format of cricket during an Indian Premier League T20 match in April 2013,, reaching the milestone off only 30 balls (beating Andrew Symonds' previous record of 34 balls). Corey Anderson of New Zealand holds the record for fastest ODI century (from 36 balls), made against the West Indies in January 2014 (beating Shahid Afridi of Pakistan's previous record of 100 from 37 balls).
The fastest recorded century in test cricket terms of balls faced is held by Viv Richards who scored 100 runs from 56 balls against England at St John's, Antigua in 1986. The record for fastest recorded century in terms of balls faced in first class cricket is held by David Hookes who scored 102 runs from 34 balls for South Australia vs Victoria in a Sheffield Shield match in 1982.
- "England gives it to Aussies at Ashes", Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 2, 2006.
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935.
- Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744-1826), Lillywhite, 1862.
- H. T. Waghorn, Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730-1773), Blackwood, 1899.
- Ashley Mote, The Glory Days of Cricket, Robson, 1997.
- H. T. Waghorn, The Dawn of Cricket, Electric Press, 1906.
- Most Hundreds in a Career, ESPN website.
- See Variations in first-class cricket statistics.
- Test #1
- Test centuries
- 1st ODI: England v Australia, Aug. 24, 1972, ESPN website.