Twenty-year-old Ollie Pope will make his Test debut against India at Lord’s on Thursday. He will become the 95th English cricketer to play his first Test at the ground since 1884.
The Surrey batsman will hope to emulate his countrymen, 19 of whom have scored a century on debut. The current English openers, Alistair Cook and Keaton Jennings, are part of that list and both made their debuts against India.
Despite a blistering county season with 684 runs at an average of 85.5, Pope should know that English batsmen don’t have it easy while making their Test debuts. England’s batsmen average 26.49 on their debut, the sixth highest among Test nations.
Since 1877, 94 players have scored a century on debut. West Indies’ Lawrence Rowe and Pakistan’s Yasir Hameed have an the unusual privilege of scoring tons in both innings of their debut Tests in 1972 and 2003 respectively.
Australia lead the pack of debut centurions with 20, closely followed by the English and India sit third with 14. But the English still have bragging rights of the highest score on debut. Reginald Foster scored 287 runs in December 1903. It would be his only international century. He would later become the only man to have captained England in cricket and football.
By and large, debut centuries have been few and far between. It takes an average of 548 days since 1887. However since 2000, they’re far more frequent with a debut centuries coming around every 197 days. The last debut century was scored by Kevin O’Brien on May 14, 2018, in Ireland’s inaugural Test match, against Pakistan.