Watch: Adam Gilchrist misses out on 1.3 million rand en route to fastest Test match double ton
Watch: At the Wanderers in 2001/02, Adam Gilchrist almost won 1.3 million rand with a shot. He later made up for not doing so with the then fastest double hundred in Test cricket.
Shortly after thrashing South Africa 3-0 at home, the Australian juggernaut arrived for the return tour. The first Test match, in Johannesburg, followed a familiar course. Australia declared on 652-7 before bowling out South Africa for 159 and 133 – all inside three days of cricket.
For Australia, Glenn McGrath had 3-28 and 5-21, while Brett Lee returned 3-40 and 4-44. Before that, Matthew Hayden made 122 and after Australia were 293-5, Damien Martyn (133) and Gilchrist (210 not out) added 317 as Allan Donald hobbled out of Test cricket, and Neil McKenzie had to bowl.
Ahead of the Test match, the sponsors had placed an advertising billboard, assuring a solid gold ingot worth 1.3 million rand to every batter who would be able to hit it. One of Gilchrist’s eight sixes, a slog-sweep off McKenzie, went “within a couple of metres” of the billboard, placed in the stands between deep mid-wicket and deep square-leg.
Gilchrist later admitted to not having “set out deliberately to aim for the billboard.” However, when he realised that he had almost hit the jackpot, he waved animatedly, ‘requesting’ the ball to land where he wanted to. When the ball eventually missed the mark, not only Gilchrist but also South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher were visibly disappointed.
Gilchrist raced to 199 by tea on the second day. Soon afterwards, he reached his double-hundred off 212 balls, eight fewer than Ian Botham’s existing world record. Cricket has undergone so much change over the next two decades that Gilchrist has been pushed to eighth spot. While Nathan Astle (153 balls) still holds the world record, Virender Sehwag (168, 182, 194) features thrice in the top six.
Australia won the second Test match as well, but South Africa pulled one back with a win in the ‘dead rubber’ final Test.