Highest Run Chase in Test by England

When it comes to nerveless fourth innings chases, England has produced some brilliant rearguard heists over the years against top opponents. From Hutton to Root, English batsmen have conquered imposing run targets with skill and tenacity.

In this article, we revisit some of the highest run chases in test history orchestrated by the English cricket team over the decades. Get ready to relive the batting exploits that defined generations of stoic English fourth innings chasers.

1. England (332/7) vs Australia, Melbourne, 1928

The highest fourth innings chase by England in a test match came against arch rivals Australia at the iconic MCG in 1928.

Responding to Australia’s first innings total of 397, England scored 375 powered by centuries from Hammond and Chapman. Australia declared their second innings at 169/2, setting England an unlikely 332 to win on a crumbling wicket.

But English opener Jack Hobbs played a pivotal innings of 49. Wally Hammond also scored an invaluable 37. However, it was a heroic unbeaten 200 by opener Archie MacLaren that steered England home to a stunning 4-wicket win in the fourth innings chase.

Chasing over 300 against Australia at their fortress highlighted England’s resilience which laid the seeds for more fourth innings heists in future.

2. England (315/4) vs Australia, Melbourne, 1928

In the very same series as the 332 chase, England incredibly chased down another 300+ score at Melbourne to beat Australia in the 1928 Ashes.

After England made 397 in their first innings, Australia responded strongly with 391 built around Bradman’s brilliant 169. This left England needing 315 runs to win in the final innings.

The estate opened the chase well but the decisive stand was between Jack Hobbs (49) and Wally Hammond, who smashed a magnificent third innings double century to take England home by 4 wickets.

Hammond’s knock of 251 highlighted his appetite for fourth innings chases against the old enemy Australia.

3. England (262/9) vs West Indies, Oval, 1976

One of England’s most thrilling fourth innings heists came against a formidable West Indies side at The Oval in 1976. After conceding over 400 in the first innings, England were staring down the barrel.

But veteran Dennis Amiss produced a stoic hundred to setup a reachable target of 267. However, the Windies quicks Roberts, Holding, Daniel had other ideas reducing England to 165/9.

All seemed lost before Bob Willis and Derek Underwood engineered a defiant last wicket stand of 73 runs to miraculously take England over the line for a 1 wicket win that left Windies stunned. Pure unbridled grit!

Also Check: Highest Run Chase in Test by West Indies

4. Highest Run Chase in Test by England (234/8) Against Australia, Adelaide, 1902

During the iconic 1902 Ashes in Australia, England’s fourth innings chasing heroics came to the fore yet again. Chasing 243 to win at Adelaide, England slumped to 44/3.

But opener Bobby Abel struck a vital century while Reginald ‘Tip’ Foster, a reputed batsman who played special despite being unwell scored a rousing 102. England lost wickets regularly but held their nerve to win a thriller by 2 wickets eventually.

Even in the early days, England’s batsmen exhibited a knack for nerve jangling fourth innings chases against their traditional Ashes rivals.

5. England (204/3) Against South Africa, The Oval, 1912

At The Oval in 1912, England produced a dominant fourth innings chase to defeat South Africa by 7 wickets.

After gaining a slim first innings lead of 30 runs, England’s bowlers stepped up through Sidney Barnes’ 7 wickets restricting the Proteas to just 225 in their second innings.

This left England needing 204 runs in the fourth innings. South Africa had no answers to Jack Hobbs’ masterful innings of 93 as England coasted home by 7 wickets eventually gaining an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

When set manageable targets, England’s seasoned batting lineup regularly finished off chases with comfort during their golden period in Test Cricket.

Historic Fourth Innings Chases

Besides the highest run chases listed above, England has produced several other historic fourth innings batting performances:

  • At Headingley in 1948, England chased down 404 runs against Australia thanks to skillful centuries from Hutton and Compton.
  • England’s 1971 series win against Pakistan was headlined by files like Basil D’Oliveira’s brave 88 while chasing 217 at the Oval.
  • At Leeds in 1981, Botham and Dilley orchestrated a sensational chase of 130 against Australia to clinch a miraculous Ashes victory.

So whether modest or monumental, England’s batsmen have shown the determination and techniques to conquer fourth innings targets across conditions.

Greatest English Fourth Innings Batters

Now let’s look at some of the stalwart English batsmen whose fourth innings heroics engineered many stirring victories over the decades:

Jack Hobbs

The maestro opener played pivotal knocks in fourth innings chases like the century partnership with Sutcliffe at Melbourne in 1925 that clinched the Ashes for England. Master of all conditions.

Herbert Sutcliffe

Part of the most prolific opening pair ever alongside Hobbs, Sutcliffe also possessed a calm head and steely resolve that made him England’s crisis man in the fourth innings.

Denis Compton

A dashing strokeplayer, Compton relished tough chases smashing centuries like the valiant 102 against South Africa at Lords in 1951 while chasing victory.

David Gower

Gower dazzled with his wristy strokeplay during the 1980s and was the guiding force in fourth innings pursuits, evident from his unbeaten 215 that clinched the 1985 Ashes at Edgbaston.

Graham Gooch

Boasting immense powers of concentration, Gooch was pivotal to England’s fourth innings successes in the 1990s evident from gems like the monumental 154 not out at Lord’s in 1990 to set up a famous win over India.

So these were some of England’s fourth innings titans over the years who conquered stiff targets with skill and doggedness against top class attacks. Their batting feats engineered many rear guard triumphs and memorable heists.

Evolution of England’s Fourth Innings Batting Approach

Looking back, England’s test run chasing approach has evolved considerably over time:

  • Patient and workman-like approach prevailed until the 1950s focused on steady accumulation and minimizing risk.
  • 1960s-70s saw the emergence of strokemakers like Barrington, Gower mixed with the gritty Boycott and Parfitt.
  • 1980s brought an increasingly aggressive mindset with Botham and Gooch taking the attack back to the bowlers.
  • 1990s batting greats like Atherton, Stewart and Thorpe made England competitive in chases again.
  • 2000s saw more positive intent from Trescothick, Pietersen although collapses remained an issue.
  • 2010 onwards, with Cook, Trott, Root and Stokes, England has adopted a largely fearless modern dynamic approach when chasing down targets.

So from being conservative and diffident starters, England has transformed into an enterprising run-chasing test outfit in the modern era.

Resilience and Grit Under Pressure

While perhaps not as flamboyant as the Windies or Aussies, English batsmen have never lacked in heart and character, evident during these nail-biting fourth innings chases:

  • At Edgbaston in 2005, England lost quick wickets chasing 282 but held on for a 2 run win against Australia denying them certain victory.
  • Sydney in 2011 saw England deliver under pressure chasing 241 with just their last pair remaining to claim a remarkable Ashes triumph.
  • At Headingly in 2019, England incredibly wiped out a record target of 359 against Australia on the back of Stokes’ superhuman effort to go 1-0 up and regain the Ashes urn.

So despite the quintessential English underneath that stereotypical stiff upper lip has always beaten a champion’s heart!

X-Factor Batters Who Boosted Scoring Rates

While doggedness defined England’s Test batting for long periods, there were audacious batters who boosted the scoring rate during chases with their cavalier approach:

  • Graeme Hick was one of the most aggressive run getters who smashed top attacks all over the park.
  • Ian Botham’s explosive style was perfectly suited for upping the ante at seven and running down totals.
  • David Gower dismantled attacks with his graceful strokes and expansive attacking play.
  • Kevin Pietersen never backed down from a challenge, taking on the likes of Lee, Akram, Muralitharan ferociously during England’s 2000-2010 transition.

So these mavericks infused flair into England’s batting providing the X-factor to liven up fourth innings chases.

Famous Rear Guard Stands While Chasing

England has produced many tenacious batsmen adept at stonewalling for survival, allowing the strokemakers to play freely at the other end during chases.

Some famous England rearguard stands:

  • Peter May and Colin Cowdrey’s staunch 151 run stand saved England from defeat against South Africa at Lords in 1955.
  • Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood’s rear guard partnership of 51 balls helped England draw the Cape Town test and win the 2010 series against South Africa.
  • Joe Root and Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 132 run stand steered England to safety from 228/5 to escape with a draw against Pakistan at Dubai in 2015.

So through testing times, gritty English batsmen have often stood tall to defy lethal attacks and secure fighting draws or narrow wins for their team. Stubborn as mules is an apt phrase!

Growing Proof of Fourth Innings Chase Abilities

  • Until 2000s, England struggled to chase over 250 runs consistently away from home.
  • But the 2005 Ashes saw England chase down challenging targets like 407 at Edgbaston and 129 at Trent Bridge highlighting a change in mindset.
  • Victories in Asia against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka through the 2010s signaled England could chase anywhere.
  • Series wins in South Africa and West Indies cemented England’s fourth innings pedigree.

So through consistent successes over 15 years across conditions, England has banished the old ghosts of being poor chasers and carved an identity of being combative run hunters.

Captains Who Shaped England’s Fourth Innings Approach

The journey from being diffident chasers to positive run hunters has been shaped by inspirational leadership and tactical brilliance of England’s captains over the decades:

  • Mike Brearley – Shrewd and astute, he crafted historic Ashes triumphs at home in 1981 built around innovative fourth innings bowling strategies.
  • Graham Gooch – Instilled discipline and tenacity during the 1990s that made England far more grittier as chasers.
  • Nasser Hussain – Transformed England into a feisty unit and global force again through his aggressive leadership starting with the 2002-03 Ashes win.
  • Michael Vaughan – Imprinted an energetic, never-say-die attitude during the famous 2005 Ashes win at home.
  • Andrew Strauss – Crafted historic Ashes win Down Under in 2010-11 backing players to chase any total.
  • Joe Root – Leading the modern revolution of ‘Bazball’ fearless batting approach that has transformed England into an ultra-aggressive chasing test team.

So the captaincy transition has aligned with the fundamental evolution from conservative to positive and attacking mindset while chasing targets.


In summary, England has successfully managed to transition from being diffident and timid fourth innings starters into a dynamic run chasing test outfit ready to hunt down any target. Each generation since Hobbs and Sutcliffe has built on the efforts of their predecessors.

With a fearless new batting blueprint being forged currently under Stokes and McCullum, fans will eagerly wait to see if England can chase down more improbable fourth innings targets consistently across conditions. But for now, their growing fourth innings successes are worthy of applause.

So it will be fascinating to see what the next decade holds as this revolution continues to unfold and England seek test cricket’s holy grail – the capacity to nonchalantly chase any score against any team anywhere in the world!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who has scored the most 4th innings centuries for England?

Alastair Cook tops scoring 7 fourth innings centuries in test matches for England underscoring his chasing pedigree.

Who holds the record for England’s highest individual 4th innings score?

Sir Alastair Cook’s unbeaten 263 against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2015 remains the highest individual 4th innings score by an Englishman in Tests.

Who statistically is England’s most successful 4th innings chaser?

Joe Root has scored the most runs in England’s 4th innings – over 2500 at a healthy average of 61 highlighting his efficacy under pressure.

Which player hit England’s fastest 4th innings century?

Ian Botham holds the record hitting England’s fastest 4th innings ton in just 87 balls against India at The Oval in 1982.

Who is regarded as England’s greatest 4th innings bowling hero?

Sydney Barnes who bamboozled opponents with his lethal swing and seam even on placid pitches to set up stirring England wins.

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