As part of Legends Month on Cricket Network, look back on one of Belinda Clark's greatest performances
Legends Month: The best of Belinda Clark
Thirteen years before Sachin Tendulkar made headlines around the world when he smashed an unbeaten 200 in an ODI against South Africa in Gwalior, Australia captain Belinda Clark became the first person to score a one-day international double century.
On December 16 1997, Clark unleashed on a hapless Denmark attack during a World Cup group match in Mumbai, scoring an unbeaten 229 from 155 balls.
Having won the toss and opted to bat, Clark’s legendary appetite for runs proved more than a match for the Danes as the then 27-year-old found the boundary 22 times in a whirlwind knock.
She shared stands of 168 and 136 with Lisa Keightley and Karen Rolton, respectively, helping Australia to a mammoth 3-412.
Earlier on that same day, England star Charlotte Edwards had broken the record for the highest score in women’s ODIs, posting 173no against Ireland.
But it was a record that lasted only hours as Clark swiftly bested her Ashes rival.Image Id: C4E6D29D8FF942E0879ACCD9217ACEF2 Image Caption: Australia celebrate winning the 1997 World Cup // Getty
Clark’s innings remains the only double century scored in women’s ODIs, while Australia’s total of 412 is still the second-highest in women’s 50-over history behind the 5-455 New Zealand produced against Pakistan earlier that year.
While Clark’s double-ton was scored against an admittedly weak Denmark side, it remained the highest score by either a male or female in one-day cricket until Rohit Sharma’s 264 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata in November 2014.
And although the calibre of bowling may not have been the most challenging she encountered in her 133-match international career, the fact it was only Clark’s second knock on Indian soil made it that little more impressive.Image Id: 65F4D199DB644283B67220A441ADB37E Image Caption: Clark captained Australia to two World Cup victories // Getty
Her maiden innings in what was fast becoming cricket’s new epicentre was an unbeaten 93 against South Africa in Bengaluru – an ominous sign of what was to come.
She had been denied the chance to bat in Australia’s tournament opener against Ireland, when the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to incessant rain.
“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,” Clark told Cricket Country of her record knock in 2015.
“I didn’t set out to score a big score but just to make sure I was concentrating well and hitting the ball nicely.”
Denmark were bowled out for 49 in reply, with Clark going on to captain Australia to their fourth World Cup title, defeating New Zealand in the final at Eden Gardens.
Clark’s ODI knock for the ages was just one highlight in a record-breaking career that saw her named Wisden’s Australia Cricketer of the Year in 1998 and inducted into both the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame and the Sports Australia Hall of Fame 2011, before entering the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2014.
In 15 Tests, 118 ODIs and one T20I for Australia Clark amassed 5,767 runs, including a century on Test debut against India in 1991, while she captained the Southern Stars to a second World Cup victory in 2005.