As he majestically swatted one six after another against the Netherlands’ bowlers in Delhi, Glenn Maxwell must have thought he was breaking all sorts of records.
It’s true: the Australian big-hitter did accomplish the fastest century in World Cup history as he carved the Dutch bowling attack to all parts in an outrageous 40-ball ton.
Ironically, Maxwell surpassed the previous best innings set just days earlier. The South African, Aidan Markram, blitzed his ton off just 49 balls against Sri Lanka, besting the prior record of 50 balls set by Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien in his side’s famous victory over England back in 2011.
But as the Aussie returned to the dressing room after a fine day’s work under the Delhi sun, he might be surprised to learn that his rocket-powered century isn’t, in fact, anywhere close to being the fastest ever struck – despite its position in the World Cup record book.
Nope, the fastest century in international cricket history came off a scarcely believable 31 balls….we’ll find out the identity of the culprit towards the end of this article.
What is the Fastest Test Match Century?
Cricket’s occasionally laconic image is born out of the longest format of the game – contests that can last for five days and still end in a draw are, in an era of shortened attention spans and the need for instant gratification, becoming increasingly antiquated.
If the ICC brings in four-day test matches as it has often threatened, it’s likely that more rapid-fire centuries will be struck as teams look to force a result – most players are so well-versed in short-format cricket these days that the transition to more attack-minded batting in tests would be a breeze.
Even so, any adventurous batsman in the red ball game will do well to match the fastest century ever recorded in a test match: Brendan McCullum, New Zealand legend and subsequent England coach, hammering a ton off just 54 balls in what would turn out to be his final test appearance for the Kiwis back in February 2016.
— 9News Adelaide (@9NewsAdel) February 20, 2016
In the end, McCullum hit 21 fours and six maximums in a knock of 145 runs, which was compiled from just 79 balls. The fun part? He would end up on the losing side as Australia rallied to a seven-wicket victory.
The New Zealander bested the previous fastest century off 56 balls; a record shared by Viv Richards and Misbah Ul-Haq. Richards put England to the sword on a bouncy Antiguan track back in 1986, and nearly 30 years would pass before Misbah equalled his feat in 2014 when blasting the Aussies all over Abu Dhabi.
What is the Fastest T20 Century?
T20 cricket is both an arbiter of fast-paced scoring and a complicator of the very same: batters are encouraged to score quickly, but they have fewer overs from which they can generate a big score.
Nevertheless, two of the fastest centuries of all time have come in the shortest format of them all, with David Miller and Rohit Sharma jointly holding the top billing of a ton off just 35 balls.
Miller, the powerful South African, was the first to smash the record in 2017, concluding his knock of 101 not out to record the quickest international T20 hundred of the time.
But just a few weeks later, he was joined on the 35-ball mark by Sharma, one of the cleanest strikers of a cricket ball you are ever likely to see. His final tally of 118 was blitzed against Sri Lanka in Indore.
What is the Fastest ODI Century?
The fastest ODI century is a record that may never be beaten if cricket is played for another 500 years.
The incredible South African, AB De Villiers, achieved the unthinkable: hitting a 31-ball hundred against the West Indies in Johannesburg back in 2015.
The knock got off to the best possible start when De Villiers broke the previous record for the fastest ODI fifty, notching his half-century in just 16 balls.
And he only needed 15 more to bring up his hundred, going on to amass 149 while levelling Sharma’s record of 16 sixes in a single limited overs innings.
It’s the sort of once-in-a-generation achievement that you truly had to see to believe….
What About Chris Gayle?
All of the super-fast centuries discussed above came in international cricket – still the pinnacle of the sport.
But what about at club level? Well, the record for the fastest ton at an elite grade is that of the big hitting ‘universe boss’ himself, Chris Gayle.
You could fill a record book with Gayle’s exploits over the years in the shorter formats of the sport – only six men have hit a T20 hundred in 50 balls or less, for example, and the West Indian has done it twice!
But his halcyon day, certainly as far as the record books are concerned, came when he fired a steady 30-ball hundred for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2013 edition of the IPL.
Good luck to anyone trying to emulate that….