Which was the shortest completed Test match in cricket history?
According to Guinness World Records, the shortest Test match ever was the first Test between England and Australia at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in June, 1926, in which there were just 50 minutes play and 17.2 overs bowled. That match was, of course, drawn, but the shortest completed Test match was the fifth, and final, Test between Australia and South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in February, 1932. Ironically, for a so-called ‘timeless’ match, it was all over in five hours and 53 minutes, albeit spread over three days, with a rest day in between, and a total of 109.2 overs.
On slow, easy and apparently harmless pitch, South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. They had, however, reckoned with the ability of Australian leg-spinner Herbert ‘Dainty’ Ironmonger to extract turn from the most innocuous of wickets. On Friday, February 12 – a day on which all twenty first-innings wickets fell – South Africa were skittled out for just 36, with Ironmonger taking five wickets for just six runs off his 7.2 overs. Australia, too, struggled to 153 all out, such that, at the close of play on the first day, South Africa were already 5-0 in their second innings.
The second day, Saturday, February 13, was washed out as was Sunday, February 14, which was a shceduled rest day in any case, so play did not resume until after lunch on the third day, Monday, February 15. When it did, ‘Dainty’ carried on where he had left off, taking another six wickets for 18 runs – and record match figures of 22.5-12-24-11 – and reducing South Africa to 45 all out in their second innings. Australia won the match by an innings and 72 runs and the five-match series 5-0.