Who was the first English cricketer to score a double hundred against India?
(02 January 2002)
The honour goes to a man who could possibly be called the greatest English cricketer ever. Walter Hammond was a towering figure who could have been the greatest cricketer of his generation had a certain Donald Bradman not arrived. But Hammond still managed to leave his mark as one of the greatest batsmen and fielders of all time while also being a more-than-useful bowler.
There were many greats, Len Hutton and Herbert Sutcliffe among others, who even went to the extent of rating Hammond a greater batsman than the Don. "Talk to old players. On all pitches, WR was the master. Some even suggested that he was better than Jack Hobbs. I'd put him above Bradman on all surfaces," Tom Graveney, a former England player, once said. "He did frightening things when he batted, like hitting the ball where the fielder had just been moved from."
It was a Hammond at his imperial best who made 217 of the finest when England played India at the Oval in August 1936. The Indian attack included two of the finest new-ball bowlers of the era - Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh. But Hammond was not to be denied; he put on a 266-run partnership with Maurice Leyland, who made 128, as England posted 471 in 129 overs - a run-rate that would have done even Steve Waugh's Australians proud.
India, despite having an all-rounder almost as legendary as Hammond in CK Nayadu, were fighting a losing battle from that point onwards; in the end, they slumped to a nine-wicket loss in under three days. Hammond, incidentally, scored six other double-hundreds in his Test career, including a then world-record of 336 not out. On this count, only the Don, who has scored 12 doubles, boasts of a better record.
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