Accordingly, reaching 50 runs in an innings is known as a half-century; if the batsman then goes on to score a century, the half-century is succeeded in statistics by the century. Chris Gayle holds the record of fastest hundred in the history of cricket when he smashed 100 in just 30 balls and scored 175* runs off 66 balls overall in 20 overs in IPL against Pune Warriors India in 2013.
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 top-class 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.
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.