Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow
World Test Championship

World Test Championship (2021-23): Most Test runs so far

World Test Championship

By Daniel Beswick

Hit For Six!
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We take a look at the top five leading run-scorers during the current World Test Championship period.

1. Joe Root - 1744 runs at 64.59

It would take a monumental effort for anyone to overtake Joe Root at the top of the list after such a stellar run.

Making eight centuries in the cycle thus far and averaging a tick under 65, few players in the modern era rival Root’s quality, and his career numbers suggest his exploits can only be compared to legends in the books of Test cricket history.

Root’s WTC23 run began on home soil in 2021, making three centuries in the first four Test matches against India. 

Joe Root's 180* at Lord's proved the No.4 can stand among the game’s greats. Coming in at 23/2 following the early wickets of Dom Sibley and Haseeb Hameed, Root traversed a tricky end to day two, and batted throughout the entirety of day three as his partners fell at the other end.

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How high can Joe Root go in the Test run charts? | The ICC Review

Then, Root went on to make runs abroad.

His troubles of converting against Australia were well documented, though the right-hander ticked things over with three fifties among a number of starts.

Back-to-back centuries against the West Indies showed Root’s class on slower surfaces, and on his return home without the captaincy, his class with bat in hand only shone brighter.

Root passed 10,000 Test runs with a Player of the Match 115* at Lord’s against New Zealand, backing up the fourth innings effort with another century, compiling 176 at Trent Bridge in yet another victory.

Root’s 142* against a returning India proved class was permanent, and barring a serious dip in form, the English legend should pass 2000 runs for the cycle.

2. Jonny Bairstow - 1218 runs at 55.36

Few can lay claim to having a more prolific 2022 in batting than Jonny Bairstow, playing with freedom and flourishing under new boss Brendon McCullum.

Making half a dozen centuries in the 2021-2023 World Test Championship, it means that he and Root account for 14 of England’s 17 Test centuries in the cycle. Astonishingly, all six Bairstow tons have come in 2022, with four made in his last five innings.

Coming in at 36/4 in the New Year’s Test against Australia in Sydney, Bairstow countered, reaching three figures in just 138 deliveries. Bairstow went on to emulate the success in the Caribbean, making 140 in the first West Indies Test in North Sound.

Bairstow couldn’t get going against New Zealand, though the run in the ‘BazBall’ era shows just how good the occasional gloveman can be with the bat.

The right-hander averages 196 in his last five knocks, with the only score under three figures being an unbeaten 71* that completed an emphatic English chase at Headingley.

Video cwc19 21 Jul 22
Ponting goes deep on the ‘Bazball’ phenomenon | ICC Review

3. Babar Azam - 953 runs at 63.53

The world No.1 batter in the two white-ball formats and seemingly approaching top spot in Test cricket, the question is posed: just how far can Babar Azam go?

A near-perfect blend of mental grit and technical class, Babar is Pakistan’s batting heartbeat, with a regular consistency of scores.

Nine scores greater than 50 in 16 innings, no score in single figures, and prolific everywhere he’s gone, Babar's best knock arguably came when his team needed him the most. 

Making 196 in the fourth innings against Australia, Babar's achievements are made more remarkable by the difficulties faced deep into day five in Karachi.

Video The ICC Review 27 May 22
Can Babar Azam be No.1 in all three formats? | The ICC Review

Flattened by a colossal first innings total and a meagre 148 in response, Australia piled on the pressure through a swift second innings charge. Set 506 for an unlikely victory, Pakistan would have to endure the second-longest fourth innings stay of all time to rescue a draw.

Walking out at 21/2 just after lunch on day four, Babar looked a class above. Taking just 83 balls to reach fifty, Babar brought up three figures with a measured sweep over the head of short fine-leg.

He fell short of surviving the barrage himself, though finished with the seventh-highest individual score in the fourth innings of a Test match, and ultimately did more than enough to prevent an Australian victory.

Babar went on to make a century in Pakistan's first Test in Sri Lanka, and will lead the charge in Pakistan's push for a World Test Championship Final ticket.

4. Usman Khawaja - 888 runs at 98.66

Answering Australia’s questions at the top of the order, Usman Khawaja’s form has pushed the team’s case for a World Test Championship Final berth of their own.

Grabbing his chance after what seemed an unlikely recall, Khawaja hasn’t looked back. Scoring back-to-back centuries in his home city of Sydney, selectors had no choice but to pick the left-hander to open in Pakistan in place of Marcus Harris.

Khawaja repaid the faith by making 97 in Rawalpindi in Australia's much awaited Test return to the country, and was a thorn in the side of his opponents in a famous series victory.

Making 160 and 44* in Karachi, Khawaja was just as strong in Lahore, making 91 and 104* to ensure vital World Test Championship points.

In the wilderness twelve months ago, Khawaja is close to being the first name on the team list when Australia's home Test summer begins later this year.

5. Litton Das - 883 runs at 49.05

The work of wicket-keeper/batter Litton Das has been one of the few positives of what’s been a forgettable World Test Championship campaign for Bangladesh. 

Outside of Mushfiqur Rahim's work and the occasional contribution of Shakib Al Hasan, Litton has almost gone solo for his country. Over 300 runs clear of Mushfiqur, and scoring three of Bangladesh's seven centuries in the cycle, the 27-year-old enjoys an MRF Tyres ICC Test batting ranking of 13th, easily the best among his compatriots.

Das began the campaign with a home century against Pakistan, coming in at 49/4 to rescue his team with a mature 114 in a first innings total of 330. He added 59 in the second innings to help the Tigers post a tricky target of 202, only for Pakistan's top order to respond emphatically in an eight-wicket triumph.

Video cwc19 10 Aug 22
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The right-hander's versatility was on show when Bangladesh travelled to New Zealand, making scores of 86 and 102 across the two Test matches. 

Das' form dipped in South Africa, though his 88 in the Chattogram Test against Sri Lanka handed his side a first innings lead, and ultimately four WTC points as they secured a draw.

If Bangladesh are to finish the cycle on a high note, Litton Das will likely be front and centre of the action.

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