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On this day in 2002: Adam Gilchrist smashes the then-fastest Test double ton

On 23rd February 2002, Adam Gilchrist played one of the most brutal knocks in the history of Test cricket, notching up the-then fastest double-century. In an era when cricket was yet to be transformed by the T20 format and when the game was not tilted in the batsmen’s favour like it is now, Gilchrist came up with a knock for the ages.

The legendary cricketer scored 204 not out from only 213 balls, including 19 boundaries and eight sixes, in the first Test of the three-match series. The hosts were without Shaun Pollock but had a formidable bowling lineup that consisted of Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Jacques Kallis and Nicky Boje.

Gilchrist joined Damien Martyn in the middle in the last hour of the first day when South Africa were just clawing their way back into the game after Matthew Hayden’s ton had put the visitors on top. At 293 for 5, the game was evenly balanced. Gilchrist and Damien Martyn played out the remaining 10 overs of the day to finish on 331. Australia were still in a strong position but not many would have expected what was to follow from the all-conquering Steve Waugh-led side.

Gilchrist had started day two of the Test on 21, while Martyn was at the other end on 25. And what followed thereafter was total carnage. Gilchrist took the Proteas attack to the cleaners, hitting the ball all around the park to give one of the best exhibitions of aggressive batting in the game’s history.

He reached his fifty in 89 balls with 6 fours and a six and then pressed the accelerator. The second fifty came off just 32 balls and contained a further 6 boundaries and 2 sixes. Martyn, at the other end, reached his fifty too and he too accelerated after that. The right-handed batsman scored his second fifty off just 34 balls to reach his century.

The second session of the day produced an astonishing 190 runs at 7.45 per over. Gilchrist and Martyn added 317 runs for the sixth wicket before the latter sliced one from Kallis straight to Gary Kirsten at third-man. He walked back for 133 at which point the score read 610 for 6. Gilchrist, however, continued to torment the home side.

In the very following over after Martyn’s dismissal, Gilchrist smashed Boje for two more sixes off consecutive balls. By the time the second session ended, he raced away to 199 from 211 balls. And on the very first ball after the tea, the southpaw hit Kallis for his 19th boundary to get to his double-hundred. It was the fastest double-century of that time, 8 balls quicker than Ian Botham’s 220-ball record against India in 1984.

Right after the completion of that over, Australia declared their innings at 652 for 7. In reply, South Africa scored 159 and 133 in their two innings to suffer an innings defeat. Gilchrist’s record, however, did not last long. Just three weeks after his knock, New Zealand’s Nathan Astle broke the record against England in Christchurch after reaching his double-century in just 153 balls. Astle’s record still stands.

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