Only a handful of batsmen have managed to score at least three triple hundreds in first-class cricket – eight to be precise. The exclusive list includes three Englishmen, three Australians and a West Indian and an Indian each.
Among the players in this club, only three have managed to score a triple-hundred in a Test match. In Tests, the record for the most triple-hundreds is two, which is shared by Donald Bradman, Brian Lara (West Indies), Virender Sehwag (India) and Chris Gayle (West Indies). Out of these, however, only two (Bradman and Lara) have managed at least three triple-hundreds in first-class cricket overall.
Bradman unsurprisingly leads the list with a record 6 triple centuries, given his penchant to churn out big knocks time and again. The ‘Don’ scored his maiden triple-hundred – an unbeaten 340 – for New South Wales against Victoria at Sydney in 1928-29, the season during which he made his Test debut. A year later, he smashed an unbeaten 452 – a new world record at that time – for New South Wales at Sydney, this time the hapless opponents being Queensland. His third triple ton was his first in Test matches – he cracked 334 against England at Headingley during the 1930 Ashes.
The greatest ever : Sir Donald Bradman made a record six triple centuries, of which two came in Test matches (source – news.com.au)
The world’s greatest ever batsman then had to wait for four years before he notched up his next triple hundred – he displayed his liking for Headingley again as he scored 304 there in the 1934 Ashes, becoming the first batsman to make two triple hundreds in Tests. By 1935-36, he was playing for South Australia, and he continued being a run machine for them too, as he made his final two triple hundreds that season – first stroking a 357 against Victoria at Melbourne, followed by a 369 against Tasmania (who, at that time were not part of the Sheffield Shield) at Adelaide. Having looked at these amazing scores, it is no wonder that Bradman finished his first-class career averaging a staggering 95.14, which like his Test figure of 99.94 is an all-time record by quite some distance.
Next on this list are two great batsmen of Bradman’s time – Bill Ponsford and Walter Hammond. Ponsford at his best could rival Bradman when it came to scoring heavily – he is only one of the two men to have scored two quadruple hundreds in first-class cricket (the other being Lara). Ponsford’s maiden triple century was a whopping 429, which broke Archie MacLaren’s record (424) of the highest individual score in first-class cricket. This innings came while playing for Victoria against Tasmania at Melbourne in 1922-23. In fact, all of his four triple tons were scored for Victoria, and all at Melbourne. Then in 1926-27, he scored 352 against New South Wales before making 437 (against Queensland) and 336 (against South Australia) in 1927-28 – the former instance being a new world record before Bradman broke it with his 452*.
Hammond’s first, and ultimately highest triple hundred came in a Test match – he scored an unbeaten 336 for England against New Zealand at Auckland in 1932-33, an innings which was at that time the highest in a Test match. His remaining three triples were made for his county Gloucestershire – he scored 302* against Glamorgan at Bristol in 1934, 317 against Nottinghamshire at Gloucester in 1936 and 302 against Glamorgan at Newport in 1939.
Moving further, there are five men who have scored three triple-hundreds in first-class cricket. The legendary W.G Grace is one of them, but none of his three instances came in a Test match. He scored his first two way back in 1876, first making 344 for the MCC against Kent at Canterbury and then followed it up with an unbeaten 318 for Gloucestershire against Yorkshire at Cheltenham a week later. After a gap of twenty years, he managed his third triple ton at the age of 48, scoring 301 for Gloucestershire against Sussex at Bristol in 1896. Next on the list is Greame Hick, who despite his phenomenal first-class feats, never became a great Test batsman. His three triples were all made for Worcestershire – being an unbeaten 405 against Somerset, Taunton 1988; 303* against Hampshire, Southampton 1997 and 315* against Durham, Worcester 2002.
Brian Lara holds both, the record for the highest first-class as well as highest Test scores, and the only one ever to have made a quintuple ton (source – dailymail.co.uk)
Up next is Brian Lara, one of the greatest modern-day batsmen. His three triple hundreds are unique, because two of them came in Test matches – both of them being world records – and the one that was not made in a Test was a quintuple hundred – the only such instance so far in first-class history. In 1993-94, Lara broke Garfield Sobers’ long-standing Test record of 365* by making 375 for the West Indies against England at St John’s. Just weeks later in the 1994 season, he rewrote the record books again, this time the score being an astonishing 501* for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston, in the process obliterating Hanif Mohammed’s first-class record of 499. A decade later, in a delightful coincidence, Lara regained the Test record just six months after losing it to Matthew Hayden (380) by smashing Test cricket’s first and only quadruple – an unbeaten 400 – once again against England and also at St John’s in 2003-04.
The recently-retired Michael Hussey too has three triple hundreds, all of them while playing for Northamptonshire in successive seasons – starting off with 329* against Essex at Northampton in 2001, then a 310* against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 2002, and finally a career-best 331* against Somerset at Taunton in 2003. The latest entrant into this eight-member list is also perhaps the unlikeliest – the current Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who is only 24 at the moment, thus allowing him a lot of scope to move further up on this list.
All of Jadeja’s triples have been scored for his state team Saurashtra. The first instance came in 2011-12, when he stroked 314 against Orissa at Cuttack. The next two both came in the 2012-13 season which went by – the scores being an unbeaten 303 against Gujarat at Surat and a career-best 331 against Railways at Rajkot. In the process, he became the fourth batsman (after Grace, Ponsford and Bradman) to make two triple centuries in one season. Also, his three innings have come in a span of just 13 months, the smallest such period in this list.