In the sport of cricket, a century is a score of 100 or more runs in a single innings by a batsman. The term is also included in "century partnership" which occurs when two batsmen add 100 runs to the team total when they are batting together. A century is regarded as a landmark score for batsmen and a player's number of centuries is generally recorded in his career statistics. Scoring a century is loosely equated in terms of merit to a bowler taking five wickets in an inning, and is colloquially referred to as a ton or hundred. If a batsman scores 200 or 300 it is still counted statistically as a hundred.
Accordingly, reaching 50 runs in an innings is known as a half-century; if the batsman then goes onto score a century, the half-century is succeeded in statistics by the century.
Earliest known centuries 
Centuries were uncommon until the late 19th century because of the difficulties in batting on pitches that had only rudimentary preparation and were fully exposed to the elements. There is doubt about the earliest known century, but the most definite claim belongs to John Minshull who scored 107 for the Duke of Dorset's XI v Wrotham at Sevenoaks Vine on 31 August 1769. This was a minor match.
The first definite century in a major cricket match was scored by John Small when he made 136 for Hampshire v Surrey at Broadhalfpenny Down in July 1775. The earliest known century partnership was recorded in 1767 between two Hambledon batsmen who added 192 for the first wicket against Caterham. It is believed they were Tom Sueter and Edward "Curry" Aburrow and it is almost certain that at least one of them scored an individual century, but there is no confirmation in the sources.
When Hambledon played Kent at Broadhalfpenny in August 1768, the Reading Mercury reported: "what is very remarkable, one Mr Small, of Petersfield, fetched above seven score notches off his own bat". Unfortunately it is not known if Small did this in one innings or if it was his match total. Hambledon batsmen Tom Sueter and George Leer are the first two players definitely known to have shared a century partnership when they made 128 for the first wicket against Surrey at Broadhalfpenny Down in September 1769.
Highest number of centuries 
First-class cricket 
W. G. Grace was the first batsman to score 100 career centuries in first-class cricket, reaching the milestone in 1895. His career total of 124 centuries was subsequently passed by Jack Hobbs, whose total of 199 first-class centuries is the current record.
Test cricket 
The first century in Test cricket was scored by Charles Bannerman who scored 165 (before retiring hurt) in the first ever Test between Australia and England (played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 15–19 March 1877). The first century partnership in Test cricket was between W. G. Grace and A. P. Lucas, batting for England, in the first innings of the only Test match between England and Australia on the Australians 1880 tour of England, played at the Kennington Oval (6–8 September 1880).
One Day International cricket 
The first One Day International (ODI) century was scored by Denis Amiss who amassed 103 runs against Australia at Old Trafford in 1950 (the second official ODI on record). Sachin Tendulkar currently holds the record for most ODI centuries, having scored his 40th in the In
Fastest centuries 
In April 2013, Chris Gayle set a new record for the fastest century in any format of cricket during an Indian Premier League T20 match, reaching the milestone off only 30 balls (beating Andrew Symonds' previous record of 34 balls). Shahid Afridi of Pakistan holds the record for fastest ODI century (from 37 balls), which he made in his first international innings against Sri Lanka; out of the seven fastest centuries of all time, he has scored three of them. The fastest century in test cricket was achieved by Viv Richards in 1986, from 56 balls.
See also 
- "England gives it to Aussies at Ashes", Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 2, 2006.
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935.
- Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744-1826), Lillywhite, 1862.
- H. T. Waghorn, Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730-1773), Blackwood, 1899.
- Ashley Mote, The Glory Days of Cricket, Robson, 1997.
- H. T. Waghorn, The Dawn of Cricket, Electric Press, 1906.
- Most Hundreds in a Career, ESPN website.
- See Variations in first-class cricket statistics.
- Test #1
- Test centuries
- 1st ODI: England v Australia, Aug. 24, 1972, ESPN website.
- ODI Centuries
- Ashdown, John. "Chris Gayle scores fastest century in cricket history during IPL game". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2013.