Out of 180+ 4th innings centuries in Test cricket so far, only 6 were converted to the magical double century score. Sachin Tendulkar who has got the maximum runs (1625) while playing in the final innings of the Tests, has no 4th innings double century to his name. In fact, only 2 among the players with more than 1000 4th Innings runs has achieved this feat.
George Headley was the first batsman to score a double hundred in the 4th innings of a Test match in 1930, in the 193rd Test game. Since then, there were only 5 instances of 4th innings 200s in the primary format of the game over 90 odd years–the fact that tells the rarity of this achievement.
Even Michael Clarke who has got 4 double tons inside a year along with the other four legendary batsmen who have got 3 200s in a calendar year, didn’t score one in the fourth innings of the Tests they played.
Interestingly, 4 of these knocks were scored against England, and one by an England batsman. Let’s see them all, one by one.
1. George Headley (WI) – 223 vs England (Kingston, 1930)
To start with for the first-ever incident of 4th innings double century, let’s get back 90 years and 2200 odd Test matches from now, when George Headley scored a might double ton against England at Kingston in 1930. This innings came alive when West Indies were chasing a target of 836, thanks to England’s massive first innings score of 849 powered by England opener Andy Sandham’s 325.
Interestingly, this was the first ‘timeless’ Test match to be played. Walking into bat at No.3, Headley stayed unbeaten at the end of Day-6 with a score of 117 and added more to end at 223 on Day-7. The game was declared ‘Draw’ by mutual agreement between the teams due to continuous rain and for the fact that England team had a boat to catch back to hometown.
George Headley’s 223, till date after 90 odd years, is the highest score made by any batsman in the 4th innings of a Test match.
2. William Edrich (ENG) – 219 vs South Africa (Durban, 1939)
9 years later, once again in a timeless Test match, the feat of 4th innings 200 repeated itself; this time by an English batsman; once again in a drawn Test match. Interestingly in this list, both timeless Test matches, where the game ends only when a team wins, ended in draw. Ironic!
William Edrich, one of England’s prolific first-class cricketer, came in at No.3 when England were chasing a big total of 696. His two-days long partnerships with Paul Gibb and Wally Hammond took his score to 219 before he fell to Chud Langton. The game ended in a draw on its 10th day as both captains agreed for a draw with the visiting team had to leave for their hometown.
3. Sunil Gavaskar (IND) – 221 vs England (The Oval, 1979)
It took 40 more years for a batsman to achieve this feat again. Sunil Gavaskar, the master Indian batsman, is the only batsman to score a double century in all four innings of a Test match, thanks to this heroic Oval final innings knock. Gavaskar, with 4 Test double centuries stands at 4th place for India. You can read here the country-wise double century contributions in Test cricket here.
Chasing 438, Sunil Gavaskar batted for 443 deliveries to finally get himself out for 221, the knock that included 21 fours. Needing 15 runs in the final over of the Test with just 2 wickets in hand, Indian team settled with a draw falling just 9 runs short of a historic Test match chase.
4. Gordon Greenidge (WI) – 214* vs England (Lord’s, 1984)
Another 4th innings double century that came against England by a West Indian batsman. This knock came in a much faster strike rate of 88.42, as Gordon Greenidge, the West Indian batsman took only 242 balls for this exemplary innings of 214, successfully chasing the target of 342.
Greenidge was out for 1 in his team’s first innings, and when England set the target of 342 to chase off in 78 overs of the last day of the Test match, the Barbadian batsman made sure he stays ‘in‘ this time. An unbeaten double century from the ICC Hall of fame conduct, helped his team beat England by 9 wickets, with more than 10 overs to spare. Gordon Greenidge is also the first among the 9-member group to score 100 in their 100th ODI game.
5. Nathan Astle (NZ) – 222 vs England (Christchurch, 2002)
The first 21st century’s entry to this elite list and the only instance in the 2000s (decade) came in 2002, by Nathan Astle against England. England, 4th time being at the receiving end of this rare scenario, finally ended up as the winner this time.
Chasing a mammoth total of 550 and walking into bat when the score was 119/3, Astle took charge for his team single-handedly. The kiwi batsman’s 222-runs innings came with 28 fours and 11 sixes, in just 168 deliveries. Astle’s 200 came in only 153 balls, thereby making it the fastest 200 scores ever in Test cricket. Still, the lack of contribution from other batsmen put New Zealand down by 98 runs.
The Christchurch 2002 Test match was the only instance in cricket history, where a team that comprises a batsman scoring a double ton ended up losing. Still, the remarkable innings from Nathan Astle was one to cherish for the years to come. It would help if you look at the innings yourself to get a piece of the Astle’s Christchurch innings, which is considered to be one of the greatest innings played by a batsman in Test cricket.
6. Kyle Mayers (WI) – 210* vs Bangladesh (Chattogram, 2021)
The winning knock from the debutant, Kyle Mayers came when West Indies were set a target of 395 by the host Bangladesh. The middle-order batsman became the first debutant to score a double century in the 4th innings of the Test match. It is important to mention that only five other debutants in Test cricket scored their first 200 in their inaugural game.
Mayers’ marvel innings helped West Indies complete a top 5 successful 4th innings chase in Test cricket. The partnership of 216 runs between debutants Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner is the second-highest partnership involving two debutants in the history of Test cricket.