On this day: Belinda Clark becomes the first to score 200 in an ODI

The modern batting standards have made many once-thought-impossible-feats possible. Though, a double century in a one-day game was not only unheard of but was simply beyond imagination in the late 90s. The event remains rare despite the aggressive fashion in which modern-day cricket is played.

When the legendary Sachin Tendulkar raised his arms for the second time on 24th February 2010 against South Africa at Captain Roop Singh Stadium of Gwalior in a 50-over game, the entire cricketing world was taken by storm, and each one bowed to the Master in respect. However, the Master Blaster was not the first player to score a double ton in a One-Day International.

A monumental feat

Instead, as many as 13 years before the great Tendulkar reached the coveted mark in a 50-over format, it was Belinda Clark, the Australian captain, who smashed an unbeaten 229 off just 155 balls to propel her side to a colossal 412 for 3, against Denmark in a 1997 ICC Women’s World Cup game at Bandra’s Middle Income Group (MIG) Ground, Mumbai. All that Clark was trying to do was get acclimatized to Indian conditions, as before the 1997 World Cup, she had never played in India.

She slammed 22 boundaries in her knock and shared hundred-plus stands with two of her partners in Lisa Keightley (60) and Karen Rolton (64), in what was a brutal carnage against an inexperienced attack. Bandra’s Middle Income Group (MIG) Ground was not one the biggest in the world. Of course, Clark was up against a modest and inexperienced attack, but that does not take anything away from her monumental effort. It was indeed hard-fought innings and it can be seen by the fact that despite scoring at a rapid rate of 147 and ending up with 229 from 155, she hit only 22 fours and not even a single six.

That she played against a feeble Denmark side, which did not even come close chasing the total and tumbled for 49 – one-fifth of Clark’s score, does not take away her credit that until Rohit Sharma scored 264 at Eden Gardens, it was Clark’s 229, which remained the record for the highest individual score in ODIs. Before the advent of T20s and shorter-format leagues, Clark’s innings redefined and inspired a new generation in cricket.

In an international career that spanned from 1991 to 2005, she led the Australian women’s team to two World Cup victories and one World Cup final. She was named Wisden Australia Cricketer of the Year in 1998 and was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2011. Despite such brilliant exploits, it is only unfortunate that her remarkable achievements are often overshadowed by her male counterparts.