Losses are an inevitable part of any game. Any team that plays a certain number of games wins some and loses some. It’s as intrinsic a part of everyday life as it is a part of sports. Even in a karmic sense, wins will always be countered by losses at some point, and vice versa.
From October 2016 to May 2020, India achieved its longest streak - 42 months - as the World no.1 Test team. During the same period in 2018, India beat West Indies by an innings and 272 runs at Rajkot to record their highest margin of victory in Test cricket.
Australia achieved the unique feat of registering 10 successive series wins at home twice, first between November 1994 to November 2000 and later from July 2004 to November 2008. The Australians, in fact, recorded 16 consecutive Test match wins overall between 1999 to 2001 first and then between 2005 to 2008.
However, sometimes a team can upset the status quo and go beyond, refusing to lose and winning or drawing matches through weeks, months, or even years. Such streaks require not only incredible skill, but also tremendous resilience, the mindset to ward off complacency, and plenty of grit. Another contributing factor is the number of home matches played by the team during that time. Here’s a look at the longest unbeaten streaks in Test cricket.
Although they’re languishing near the bottom of every possible cricket ranking right now, the West Indies were once giants of the game. With the likes of Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, and Gordon Greenidge on the team, they had a monstrous squad. They hold the record for the longest unbeaten streak with 27 matches between January 1982 and December 1984, and in that time, they played Australia home once and away twice, India home and away, and England away.
Between 1968 and 1971, England was unassailable. Players like Geoffrey Boycott, John Edrich, and Derek Underwood kept the English flag flying high despite there being plenty of other strong teams at the time. Their streak lasted from June 1968 to August 1971, and they played Australia both home and away, West Indies at home, Pakistan home and away, India at home, and New Zealand away.
Australia enters our list for the first of four times with their post-war 25-match unbeaten streak. Although There were few teams in the world at the time, Australia nevertheless took on and beat almost every single one while boasting the likes of Donald Bradman, Ian Johnson, and Keith Miller. Their streak went on from the end of March 1946 till February 1951, and is the longest lasting streak on this list in terms of time elapsed. Australia stood tall to England home twice and away once, New Zealand away, India at home, and South Africa away.
This one will be much more relatable for younger readers, as it happened during the Ponting prime of mid-noughties Australia. These were the days when Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, and Shane Warne dominated the scene, and the streak saw them resist England home and away, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, West Indies, and even the ICC World XI at home, and Bangladesh away. The Aussies’ run lasted from September 2005 to January 2008.
The fifth-longest streak of all time belongs to India, who were powered by the likes of Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ajinkya Rahane as they cruised to victory after victory. Out of their 19-match unbeaten streak, they won 15. This form lasted from August 2015 to February 2017, and saw them take on South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Bangladesh at home, and Sri Lanka and West Indies away.
About 66 years before the aforementioned India streak, England were enjoying their own bit of dominance. They had an absolutely fascinating crop of players, and made full use of them. Running between February 1959 and June 1961, the streak saw them unbeaten for 18 matches courtesy of a squad replete with Ken Barrington, Colin Cowdrey, and Fred Trueman. During this amazing run, England fought off India, South Africa, and Australia at home, and New Zealand and West Indies away.
Australia’s second entry on this list falls under the Steve Waugh era right after their 1999 ODI World Cup win. The squad was full of match winners, and combined with the previously mentioned run, was just one big period when it was extremely difficult to beat the Baggy Greens. This spree began in September 1999, and lasted till February 2001, fueled by the Waugh brothers, Adam Gilchrist, and Glenn McGrath just to name a few of the usual suspects. The Aussies fended off Pakistan and the West Indies at home, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand away, and India both home and away.
Yet another unbeaten streak for the most successful Test team in the history of the game. This time around, they stayed unbeaten in 17 matches between October 1956 and December 1959, powered by names such as Neil Harvey, Richie Benaud, and Ray Lindwall. When England went on their own streak shortly afterwards, it may have been inspired by this Aussie romp. Australia met challenges from England at home, and South Africa, Pakistan, and India away over the course of their defiant run.
Perhaps the entry with the most draws by percentage, India’s 17-match streak saw them leave matches with inconclusive results 12 times, with famous India vs Australia tied test thrown into the mix. India’s spirits were high following their World Cup and World Championship of Cricket victories in the ODI format, and their excellent team was up to the task in Tests as well, remaining undefeated between September 1985 and March 1987. In Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, and Kris Srikkanth, India found the perfect combination to hold off any team. They faced Australia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan at home, and Australia (again), Sri Lanka, and England away to achieve this feat.
The final entry for the list comes in the form of a Baggy Greens’ team from the early 20th century. Australia’s first dominant run began in December 1920 and went on till January 1925, but only included 16 matches. The likes of Warwick Armstrong, Warren Bardsley, and Bill Ponsford steered them through the matches, which included 2 home and 1 away series against England, and a single trip to South Africa.