Before Sachin, let us applaud ‘double ton’ Belinda!
The entire world stood awestruck when Sachin Tendulkar did what no other man could do! Sizzling on the Captain Roop Singh Stadium pitch in Gwalior against South Africa, the greatest icon of international cricket (or at least, I consider him to be so) created history; smashing an unprecedented double century, he registered himself not only as the first man to reach the 200-run mark in ODI cricket, but also as the highest scorer in the 50-over format!
As it is, the world idolizes Sachin Tendulkar and treats him like God (include me too in his list of worshipers), and the unbeaten 200-run feat seemed like just another feather in the cap of the man, who already has dozens and dozens of records to his credit.
But there is a slight correction here! Where on one hand, the whole world celebrates Sachin’s feat, let us remind ourselves that he is not the first cricketer to cross a double ton in an ODI inning! Indeed he is the first man to do so, but before him there was a ‘woman’, who achieved this feat over a decade ago and that too on Indian soil!
Here’s re-introducing Belinda Jane Clark, an Australian women cricketer, who scored a massive unbeaten 229 in December 1997 during the Women’s World Cup; a feat hardly remembered by anyone today!
Forget the rest, even Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar was unaware of Clark’s achievement, until some reporters asked him to comment on the fact a few days ago! “I have not heard of it, but if she has done such a thing, that’s incredible,” he said in a press conference!
So now, on the eve of the Women’s Day, let us recall an inning by a woman which, technically, is the most glorious inning in the history of ODI cricket!
Date: December 16, 1997
Venue: Middle Income Group Ground, Bandra, Mumbai
Event: 1997-98 Women’s World Cup, Australia vs Denmark
After having maintained a winning streak against South Africa and Pakistan in the tournament so far, Denmark surely weren’t that big a threat to Australia. Though everybody already knew that Australia were bound to win against the Denmark eves, the magnitude of victory was something which people never anticipated.
Belinda Clarke, the then skipper of the Australia women’s cricket team, came down to the field with opening partner Lisa Keightley. Together, they both took their team’s score past the 150-run mark. It was 168 for Australia when Denmark women got their first wicket in the form of Keightley (60); Clark had already crossed her first century of the innings by then.
After that there was no holding back for Clark in the game. Though her innings, interestingly, lacked the luster of a ‘six’, the Aussie skipper reached her 229 in 155 balls with the help of 22 boundaries at a strike rate of 147.74.
Sachin Tendulkar, on the contrary, reached his 200 not out at Gwalior in 147 balls, with the help of 25 boundaries and three extravagant sixes at a rate of 136.05.
Clark’s fantabulous performance in 1997 eventually led her team to claim the fourth World Cup trophy. However, in 2001, her knock of 91 runs against New Zealand did not help as the Australians lost in the finals. But Clark did not let go of her dream of a fifth World Cup title and thus, in 2005, she led Australia to another Cup victory in South Africa.
On the field, a terrific Aussie batsman, and off the field, the chief executive of Women’s Cricket Australia; Clark surely played a major role in cricket Down Under.
And now, as we celebrate Women’s Day, we salute the woman in international cricket, whose name might have been forgotten by many, but her actions have always spoken louder than words. Let’s raise a toast to a woman, who created a record par excellence, a record that even the iconic Sachin Tendulkar took 13 years to break!!!