Home > Features > Moments in history >

Adam Gilchrist goes berserk to score the then fastest double hundred in Test history

When Adam Gilchrist went berserk to shatter the then fastest double hundred in Test history

The three centurions for Australia (from left): Damien Martyn (133), Adam Gilchrist (204 not out) and Matthew Hayden (122) during the second day of the first Test between South Africa and Australia at The Wanderers, Johannesburg © Getty Images

February 23, 2002. Adam Gilchrist launched one of the most brutal assaults ever witnessed on a thoroughly decent South African bowling attack for a thundering double hundred. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the day when he scored the then quickest double century in Test history and just missed out on becoming a millionaire to boot.

It was the kind of sustained carnage unseen on a Test match ground. It was a savagery that led a normally sedate Wisden to remark, “Gilchrist was playing with them like a cat keeping a half-dead mouse alive for entertainment.”

The first day had ended with the honours pretty much even. By the second afternoon, the balance had shifted devastatingly enough to leave South Africans tottering at the very edge of survival — a pulverised side shell-shocked into submission.

When Gilchrist had walked out to bat in the last hour of the first day, the Proteans had just about clawed their way back into the game. Matthew Hayden had provided a toned-down version of the left-handed destruction to follow, with a hundred studded with 18 boundaries and two sixes. But, he had been dismissed late into the fifth hour and Steve Waugh had not lasted too long. At 293 for five, the game was evenly balanced.

Gilchrist and Damien Martyn had played out the remaining 10 overs of the day to finish on 331. The Australian wicketkeeper had not been overly aggressive during the dying moments of the day, apart from swinging Nel for a six over square-leg.

It looked as if the home side, coming in from a demoralising 0-3 defeat in Australia, had settled down to provide a close contest. However, they ran into a hurricane on the second day.

The Hurricane

Martyn, classy and elegant, approached his innings with all the studious care of the archetypical Test match stylist. Gilchrist, however, had no such affiliation to the purists. Riled by some offensive taunts from the crowd as was he walking in to bat, he turned his focus on absolute destruction.

Bowler after bowler — quite a handful of them including Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis — faced the bazooka of a bat as the ball disappeared to all corners of the ground. Gilchrist reached his fifty in 89 balls with six fours and a six. South Africans had been hampered by the pulled hamstring Allan Donald suffered on the first day — his aging body finally gave up and he retired after the Test. Captain Shaun Pollock had been side-lined with injury. But, the remaining bowlers were a decent lot and treated with a degree of disdain that they did not deserve.

After reaching his fifty, Gilchrist stepped up the tempo. The second fifty took just 32 balls, and contained a further six boundaries and two sixes, both off Nicky Boje. All the while, Martyn had been as much a spectator as anyone else in the stands, doing little of note, apart from sending Nel to the boundary three times in an over.

After progressing watchfully to his half-century, Martyn opened up as well. His own second fifty took just 34 balls. An enthralling afternoon session produced 190 runs at 7.45 per over.

A hapless captain Mark Boucher, standing in for the injured Pollock, had to turn to the gentle medium pace of Neil McKenzie. Gilchrist, on 136, smashed him for 2, 4, 2, 6, 2, 4 — an annihilation almost poetic in its symmetry. The next over saw Nel being pulled for another huge six.

Almost a million

McKenzie bowled again, and after a quite five ball interlude containing just a two and a four, Gilchrist aimed for a million.

A local gold mine had placed an advertising hoarding — safely positioned well beyond the crowd at deep mid-wicket — offering a solid gold ingot worth 1.3 Rand to any batsman who could hit it. McKenzie pitched short and Gilchrist, by now toying with the attack, pulled it hard and high, following the ball with his eyes, egging it on with his gestures, jumping up and down in excitement. He missed the target by a couple of metres, reacting animatedly at the close brush with a fortune. However, he had moved to 175 with the stroke and the contest had been reduced to a game between Gilchrist and the limits of slaughtering havoc.

For a while, the long-standing 346-run sixth wicket partnership record set by Don Bradman and Jack Fingleton seemed under threat. But, with the stand worth 317, Martyn sliced one from Kallis down the throat of Gary Kirsten at third-man. He walked back for 133 at which point the score read 610 for six. Neither batsman regretted missing out on the world record. According to Gilchrist, “It’s best you don’t tamper with those sorts of records. I don’t think you want to knock The Don off.”

There was no respite for the South Africans, though. In the following over, Gilchrist carted Boje for two more sixes off consecutive balls. And before Shane Warne fell at the stroke of tea, he too had pummelled Boje into the stands.

At the time of the interval, Gilchrist was on 199 from 211 balls. The first ball he faced after tea was from Kallis and he struck it for his 19th boundary to get to his double hundred. It also contained eight savage sixes and came off 212 deliveries, the fastest double century at that time — eight balls quicker than Ian Botham’s two-decade old record. Gilchrist also became the fifth wicketkeeper ever to get to two hundred, after Imtiaz Ali, Taslim Arif, Brendon Kuruppu and Andy Flower.

When Steve Waugh called him in at the end of the over, he walked back to a rousing ovation from an otherwise infamously parochial crowd. It had been a breathtaking unbeaten 204 from 213 deliveries, one of the most audaciously aggressive innings ever witnessed in Test cricket.

Australia had closed their innings at 652 for seven.


The aftermath of destruction

A shattered and shredded South African team could last just 86 overs across their two innings. They surrendered meekly against Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie to lose within three days. The margin of defeat was the second heaviest ever inflicted in Test cricket — a whopping innings and 360 runs.

Brief scoresAustralia 652 for seven declared (Matthew Hayden 122, Mark Waugh 53, Damien Martyn 133, Adam Gilchrist 204*) beat South Africa 159 (Ashwell Prince 49) and 133 (Herschelle Gibbs 47, Glenn McGrath 5 for 21, Shane Warne 4 for 44) by an innings and 360 runs.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Hamilton

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 72 runs

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Pakistan hold advantage at stumps on Day 3 of 1st Test against Australia

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Duleep Trophy India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone lead by 81 runs as North Zone bowled out for 457

Laxmi Ratan Shukla to lead Bengal in upcoming One-Day series

David Warner feels lucky to have equalled Don Bradman’s record

Kapil Dev’s Dev Musco Lighting accused of inflated costs by GCA

VVS Laxman advises budding batsmen to score big hundreds

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Spin hunt continues for visitors

Sarfaraz Ahmed may have trumped the Akmals as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman across formats

Don Bradman — even if every chance he ever gave in his career was accepted, he would still remain head and shoulders above the others

Len Hutton’s hundred gets reported as illness

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

NGOs pursue education for all

Google partners Oxford University to teach machines to think

Nokia turnaround since handset unit sale continues, reports $950 million Q3 net profit

Duleep Trophy 2014: Central Zone lead by 81 runs as North Zone bowled out for 457

Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ is the Typical Over the top Masala and Action

International programme in Animal Husbandry

BREAKING NEWS: Fire on the sets of Yeh Hai Mohabbatein and Kumkum Bhagya

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: David Warner century goes vain as Pakistan lead by 151 at day 3 close

Pavitra Rishta to air its final episode tomorrow

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here