On October 19, 1986, a strange milestone was reached, which passed virtually unnoticed. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the exact moment when the one millionth run in Test cricket was scored.
The Wankhede Test of 1986, the 1054th in the history of the game, had already witnessed several records.
Sunil Gavaskar had notched his 33rd century on the third day, and had hoisted his white floppy hat on the raised willow to celebrate. After his departure, two other Bombay stalwarts – Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri – posted their own tons. For just the second time in the history of Test cricket, three batsmen batting on their home ground had scored hundreds in the same innings. The previous instance had been John Wright, Jeff Crowe and Ian Smith hitting centuries against England at Auckland in 1984.
The fourth day saw record after record shattered on the way as Vengsarkar and Shastri marched on, adding a record 298 unbeaten runs for the sixth wicket. Vengsarkar was all class and elegance, posting his then career-best score of 164 not out, while Shastri vacillated between periods of strokelessness and flurries of six hitting to finish unbeaten on 121.
Skipper Kapil Dev declared, ahead by 172 run in the first innings, and the eager Indian noses sniffed victory. The last day - October 19, 1986 - began with fielders positioned all around the bat, as Maninder Singh, Shivlal Yadav and Shastri tried their hardest to spin the Aussies out.
When Shastri got openers David Boon and Geoff Marsh in quick succession just before lunch on the final day, the hopes of an Indian win increased. However, on a track that had slowed down to a state of docile benevolence, Allan Border and Dean Jones settled down and played comfortably. Soon the match started tapering to a tame draw despite boisterous support from the stands.
By the late afternoon little interest remained, with the Australians crossing two hundred with just two wickets down.
The first million
However, unknown to all but a handful of diehard cricket aficionados, another major record was about to be achieved. Debutant Raju Kulkarni had bowled impressively to capture three first innings wickets and had been surprisingly held back until the 63rd over of the Australian second innings. He was now about to become an unwitting, but inseparable, part of history.
The fifth ball of his fifth over, the 83rd of the innings, was turned to the leg side by Jones for a single. That took the Australian score to 201 for two. And this brought the total number of recorded runs in all Test cricket to 999,999.
The next ball was carted for four by Border, and Test cricket became a millionaire!
Till late 2011, there was some confusion, with the single of Jones considered to be the 1,000,000th run in Tests in some quarters. However, since then there has been a modification in the official scorebook of the 1906 Johannesburg Test between South Africa and England. The second innings total of the hosts in that match has been modified from 34 for one to 33 for one.
The Wisden Book of Test Cricket still tells us it is 34 for one, but the new score is supported by a surviving scorebook and the archives have been amended to reflect the same. Hence, it can now be concluded that it was the boundary hit by Border that raised the seven figure landmark.
The Wankhede match itself was called off as a draw when the Australians had reached 216 for two.
The millionth run had taken 109 years in coming, after Australian opener Charles Bannerman had scored the first Test run at Melbourne in 1877.
In contrast, the next million was raised in quick time – less than 26 years.
Earlier this year, on April 3 in Colombo, Thilan Samaraweera nudged Steven Finn to the fine leg boundary to bring up 2,000,000 in Tests.
The second million took 985 Tests compared to the 1054 required for the first.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix