It's been achieved 26 times in Test cricket but it remains a rare feat given the fact that 2050 matches have been played in Test history over 135 years. And that is why scoring a triple hundred is still something very special.
The very fact that the feat has eluded some of the all-time greats in the game is testimony of the rarity of the feat and it somehow seems incredible that names such as Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Denis Compton, Ken Barrington, Sunil Gavaskar, Vivian Richards, Javed Miandad, Greg Chappell, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting do not figure in the list.
Indeed it was even rarer in the past. The first triple hundred was notched up in 1930 by England's Andrew Sandham against the West Indies. It was inevitable though that with Wally Hammond and Don Bradman around the feat would be registered at more frequent intervals and through the thirties the English champion got one and the Australian legend two.
It was another matter that Bradman missed a third by just a single run being left high and dry on 299 not out against South Africa in 1931-32. By the end of the decade there was Len Hutton's 364 which was then the highest score in Test cricket.
Over the next 20 years with the retirement of Hammond, Bradman and Hutton no triple hundred was notched up. By 1958 450 Tests had been played and there had been just these five scores over 300. But around this time the floodgates opened and over the next 150 matches five more such scores were registered.
Hanif Mohammed scored 337 for Pakistan against West Indies (still the only triple hundred in the second innings of a Test match), Gary Sobers topped Hutton with 365 not out for West Indies against Pakistan in the same series in 1958, Bobby Simpson amassed 311 in 762 minutes for Australia against England in 1964, England's John Edrich hammered the New Zealand bowling for 310 not out in 1965 and Australia's Bob Cowper batted 727 minutes in compiling 307 against England in 1966.
By now as it can be seen 300 was no longer a rarity though it remained a great feat. But the rare quality associated with it soon returned for the next triple hundred was not notched till another 131 Tests had been played. Lawrence Rowe of West Indies took a heavy toll of the English bowling in 1974 in scoring 302.
Just as cricket fans the world over thought there would be a number of 300 plus scores came the longest wait for a batsman to run up such a figure. For over 400 Tests spread over 16 years no batsman got to the mark. Did the pitches have something to do with this? Were the bowling standards that much higher? Or did this development have something to do with greater emphasis on limited overs cricket? Perhaps it was a combination of all three.
All the same there was no triple hundred from 1974 to 1990 with the highest score being Vivian Richards' 291 for West Indies against England in 1976. It was not until July 1990 that the long drought finally ended with England captain Graham Gooch getting 333 against India. The spell having been broken there were three more such figures during the 90s the highlight being Brian Lara's 375 against England in 1994 which finally put into the shade Sobers' record. So it was another West Indian and another left-hander who had now raised the bar to a new height. Sobers' mark incidentally had stood for over 800 Tests.
The two other 300 plus scores in the 90s were Sanath Jayasuriya's 340 for Sri Lanka against India in 1997 and Mark Taylor's unbeaten 334 for Australia against Pakistan the following year. At the start of the new millennium then 15 triple hundreds had been scored by 14 batsmen in around 1500 Tests, Bradman being the only one to have notched up the feat more than once. Asian batsmen had registered just two with English, Australian and West Indians being the dominant figures.
In the last 12 years comprising just over 500 Tests there have been eleven such scores with Asians accounting for about half the number. Besides Bradman, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Virender Sehwag have notched up the score twice. The strongest argument why there has been a spate of big scores would be the nature of the surfaces. One would not like to think that bowling standards have fallen. It also can't be the over protective gear for helmets, arm guards and other such equipment have been in vogue since the late 70s and as it has already been observed there was no triple hundred throughout the 80s.
At any rate batsmen willing to bat long hours and display an insatiable appetite for runs have continued to be rewarded. But one notable feature has been that the triple hundreds have been scored at a faster rate and more and more adventurous batsmen have joined the ranks. Sehwag of course has been the prime example of this. His second triple against South Africa in 2008 is the fastest ever in terms of balls received (278) while in the course of his first, against Pakistan four years before he reached his 100 with a six and his triple hundred with a six.
Not only are more and more triple hundreds being notched up the scores are getting higher and higher. Sobers' 365 is now placed at No 5, Hutton's 364 is now No 6 while Bradman's famous 334 is now down to No 11 on the list. And if the achievements in the new millennium are any indication then more triple hundreds are round the corner and no record can be considered safe - not even 400!
Youngest to get 300 - Gary Sobers, 21 years and seven months
Oldest to get 300 - Andy Sandham, 39 years and nine months
Country wise break up: Australia 7, West Indies 6, England 5, Pakistan 3, Sri Lanka 2, India 2, South Africa 1. (New Zealand's highest score is 299 by Martin Crowe against Sri Lanka at Wellington in 1990-91)
Teams against whom the triple tons have been scored: England (8), Pakistan (3), New Zealand (3), South Africa (3), India (3), West Indies (2), Sri Lanka (2), Australia (1), Zimbabwe (1)
Where the triple tons have been scored: In West Indies (7), In England (7), In Pakistan (4), In Sri Lanka (3), In Australia (3), In India (1), In New Zealand (1)