Playing in a test match means that a cricketer has reached the pinnacle of their career; and some players are fortunate enough to cement their place in the team, enabling them to represent their country multiple times. Select players then make records by appearing in consecutive tests for their team.
Test teams, especially batting line-ups, are fairly settled but there is always the possibility of injury, a falling out with selectors, a serious drop in form, or the potential to be rested for a series, which can interrupt an unbroken run of tests.
As of November 2013 there are ten test playing nations, and below are most of those nation’s record holders.
Australia – Allan Border
Allan Border was a left handed, middle-order batsman who was a fixture of the Australian team for over fifteen years. Debuting in the 1978 Ashes series, Border would represent Australia in a total of 156 test matches; 93 of which were as captain of the team. Border’s record for consecutive matches is also a sport record, playing in 153 matches from 10 Mar 1979 (vs. Pakistan) through to 25 Mar 1994 (vs. South Africa).
Bangladesh are the latest team to join the ranks of test playing nations; playing in their first test in 2000. Their eightieth test came in 2013 and as such no player for Bangladesh has yet to reach 50 consecutive tests for the team.
England – Alastair Cook
The current captain of England, Alastair Cook is also the national record holder for consecutive tests, with 95 matches and counting. Cook made his test match debut against India in Nagpur in March 2006 and now has a total of 97 caps; the current run of consecutive tests started two months later when England played Sir Lanka at home. The left-handed opening batsman is also England’s record holder for test match centuries with 25.
India – Sunil Gavaskar
A lynchpin of the Indian test side of the 1970s and 1980s, Sunil Gavaskar was a right handed batsman who at one time held many of the batting records that have since been taken by Sachin Tendulkar. Debuting against the West Indies in March 1971, Gavaskar’s Indian record of 106 consecutive tests began in January 1975, when India played the West Indies, and would end in February 1987 when India played Pakistan. Shortly afterwards, and handful of tests later, Gavaskar called time on his international career.
New Zealand – Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum is the current New Zealand test match captain, and has played in 79 consecutive test matches for his country since his debut in March 2004 against South Africa. He is still currently building on this New Zealand record. A wicket-keeping batsman, Brendon McCullum is known for his big hitting, and despite an impressive test match record, he is still better known for his performances in the shorter form of the game.
Pakistan – Javed Miandad
Arguably the best batsman that Pakistan has yet produced, Javed Miandad was a right handed batsman who played for his country for 17 years. Pakistan’s leading run scorer in test match cricket would make 163 in his first innings in test cricket against New Zealand in 1976. Miandad would compete in 124 tests in all, and has the Pakistan record of 53 consecutive tests.
South Africa – AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers is the current records holder for consecutive tests for South Africa; the nation has a long history of playing cricket but was in the international wilderness for many years. A right-handed wicketkeeping-batsman, AB de Villiers has played in 87 consecutive tests since his debut in December 2004 against England.
Sri Lanka – Mahela Jaywardene
Mahela Jaywardene is one of the legends of Sri Lankan cricket; and has been a fixture in the test match team since 2002. Jaywardene has featured in a total of 138 tests for Sri Lanka, 93 of which came consecutively between November 2002 (vs. South Africa) and January 2013 (vs. Australia); the record coming to an end when he was not picked for the subsequent Bangladesh tour. As well as being the all time record run scorer for Sri Lanka, Jaywardene is ninth on the world all time record run list, and his individual high score of 374 places fourth of all time.
West Indies – Sir Garry Sobers
The West Indian record holder for consecutive tests is also a legend of the game; the record holder being one Garfield Sobers. Quite probably the greatest all rounder that the game has ever produced, Sobers appeared in 85 consecutive tests for the West Indies between April 1955 (vs. Australia) and April 1972 (vs. New Zealand). In total Sobers played 93 times for the West Indies, and remains in the top four test match run scorers, and top seven wicket takers for the team.
Zimbabwe – Alistair Campbell
Alongside Bangladesh, Zimbabwe is the most recent team to achieve test status, and would play their first test against India in October 1992. A member of that opening test team was Alistair Campbell a left handed batsman who would go on to compete in a further 55 consecutive tests for his country. Towards the end of his career he briefly retired before coming back for a handful of tests before retiring once more. As with many Zimbabwean cricketers, political issues somewhat curtailed Alistair Campbell’s career.