Belinda Clark became the first player to score a double ton in ODIs during the 1997 Women's World Cup. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
When one asks the trivia question - Who was the first player in history to score a double century in ODIs and when? The answer that many sports fans would say is Sachin Tendulkar's 200 against South Africa on February 24, 2010. The answer would be wrong. The feat of scoring the first double ton in ODIs took place 13 years earlier. On 16 December 1997, during the Women's World Cup clash between Australia and Denmark at the Middle Income Group Ground in Bandra, Mumbai, Australia skipper Belinda Clarke created hitory.
Australia won the toss and chose to bat and it was Clark, along with Lisa Keightley who started brilliantly for the Aussies. Clark and Keightley took the aggression to the Danish bowlers as they struck boundaries at will. The 168-run opening stand ended when Keightley was stumped for 60 by Dorte Christiansen. The carnage did not stop there. Clark was joined by Karen Rolton and the duo shared a 136-run stand for the second wicket as Australia passed 300. Clark and Australia continued to push the barriers of impossible as they neared history.
The Australian skipper created history when she became the first player in history to score a double ton in an ODI and Australia became the second team to reach 400 in an ODI after New Zealand had posted 455/5 against Pakistan. This was a good nine years before the epic Johannesburg match which saw the men's team post 434. Australia ended on a massive 412/4 and Denmark were totally demoralised.
Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Charmaine Mason took two wickets apiece but Rolton took 3/9 as Denmark had no options. Joanne Broadbent, Avril Fahey and Jodi Dannatt all took a wicket apiece as Denmark were blown away for 49, giving Australia a massive 363-run win. For Denmark, no one reached double figures with extras being the highest scorer with 16.
Years later, speaking to Cricket Country during the 2015 World Cup, Clark said concentration was the key. "My aim for the day was to bat for the 50 overs to make sure I was comfortable with Indian conditions for the rest of the tournament. I didn’t set out to score a big score but just to make sure I was concentrating well and hitting the ball nicely," Clark said. 22 years ever since that feat, Clark's feat remains mind-boggling for the era and time when it took place.