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Legends Month: Best of Karen Rolton

To conclude Legends Month on Cricket Network, take a closer look at the day Karen Rolton broke a world record

Few matches come with more expectation and pressure than an Ashes Test.

For Australia’s best female players, those opportunities are all the more precious, given the scarcity of red-ball matches played by the women’s team.

On July 7, 2001, Karen Rolton rose to the occasion in the English city of Leeds and went where no woman had gone before, breaking the record for highest ever score in a women’s Test with an almighty double-ton.

Karen Rolton bats on her way to a record-breaking 209no // Getty
Karen Rolton bats on her way to a record-breaking 209no // Getty

Her 313-ball 209 not out led Australia to a nine-wicket win and sealed an Ashes series victory on foreign soil – a result no Australian team was able to repeat until Meg Lanning led the Southern Stars to a drought-breaking away win in 2015.

Australia had already taken a 1-0 lead in the opening Test at Shenley – cruising to a thumping innings-and-140-run victory as fiery quick Cathryn Fitzpatrick bagged eight wickets – but it had been an individual game to forget for vice-captain Rolton, dismissed for nought in her team’s only innings.

Eager to make her mark on the series, Rolton’s chance came early in the second Test when skipper Belinda Clark was dismissed for six late on day one, the hosts having already been rolled for 144 after being sent in by the Australians.

At Shenley, her Australian teammate Michelle Gosko had matched New Zealander Kirsty Flavell’s record for highest women’s Test score with a match-winning double century of her own.

But her claim to fame wasn’t to last that second day in Leeds as Rolton filled her boots, leaving the hapless English attack searching for a way to dismiss the left-hander.

And while there had been some joy for England, who captured the wickets of Lisa Keightley for 40 and Goszko without scoring, for much of the day they were left frustrated by Rolton and Victorian right-hander Louise Broadfoot as the pair put on 253 runs for the fourth wicket.

A momentous day // Getty
A momentous day // Getty

The South Australian gave just two chances, one on 157 when she skied England's spearhead Clare Taylor to square leg and another on 191, but made the most of her chances to bring up her maiden double century.

She passed Goszko and Flavell’s 204, adding five more runs to the record before Clark declared with Australia 4-383, Rolton unbeaten in a knock that lasted more than six hours.

Another dominant bowling performance from the Southern Stars left them needing just nine runs to win in the second innings.

A day to celebrate // Getty
A day to celebrate // Getty

When opener Keightley was bowled without scoring, it set up a fitting end as No.3 Rolton score all nine of the required runs, sealing a 2-0 series win.

"To beat the record was the highlight of my career so far,” Rolton told media at the time.

“When (wicketkeeper) Julia Price came out to bat she said everyone in the dressing room would kill me if I didn't break it.

"You have those days when everything hits the gaps, but it was just good to get the runs on the board for the team."

Rolton’s world record lasted 12 months before being overtaken by India great Mithali Raj, but her Australian record stood for 16 years, only surpassed in November 2017 when Ellyse Perry romped her way to 213no at North Sydney Oval.