Twin centuries in a first-class match or a Test is not that uncommon. From Warren Bardsley, who became the first cricketer to score a century in each innings of a Test in 1909 to Rohit Sharma who was the most recent to achieve the feat in 2019, there have been a lot of players who have etched their names into the history book with this feat. However, have you ever heard of any cricketer who has scored a double century in each innings in Tests? You wouldn’t have because there are none.
The feat is so rare that it has been achieved only twice in the history of first-class cricket. Sri Lanka’s Angelo Perera hit 201 and 231 for Nondescripts Cricket Club (NCC) against Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) in early 2019. Before that, only one man – Arthur Fagg – did so in a match between Essex and Kent in Colchester, on this day in 1938.
Fagg’s England career never really took off. He managed just 150 runs in five Tests for them, but at the first-class level, he scored more than 27,000 runs at 36.05, which included 58 hundreds and 128 half-centuries. Fagg was also a more than capable wicketkeeper, who took 425 catches and inflicted seven stumpings in his 25-year cricketing career. Once his playing career was over, he stood as an umpire in 18 Tests and seven ODIs, which also included him adjudicating in the 1975 Prudential World Cup.
An attacking batsman by nature, Fagg was a Test player when he was just 21 in the year 1936, but had to miss the 1937 season completely due to rheumatic fever. However, he returned to form right away in 1938, slamming 134 against Worcestershire, 129 against Hampshire, and 125 against Lancashire. Worcestershire were on the receiving end once again as he plundered 190 against them.
Fagg wasted little time against Essex in which he brought up his fifty in 42 minutes, a century in 94 minutes, 150 in 190 minutes and a double ton in less than four hours. During the course of his innings, Fagg also passed 6,000 County Championship runs. All this after Kent won the toss and elected to bat.
Fagg scored his hundred before lunch on Day One and he did not show signs of slowing down even in the second session. After Kent were reduced to 195 for 4, Fagg’s approach was a bit more cautious, which also let his skipper Gerry Chalk settle down. He reached his 6,000th run in the competition when he got to 148.
The Kent opener then began to accelerate once he got to 150 and scored his next 50 runs in a span of just 40 minutes. Essex had used as many as eight bowlers but could do very little to get rid of Fagg, who was hungry for more runs. Fagg was finally trapped in front by Essex’s eighth bowler, left-arm orthodox Reg Taylor for 244 with as many as 31 boundaries punctuating his innings. Kent were bowled out for 429.
Despite captain Tom Pearce’s unbeaten 137 and a half-century by Jack ‘O Connor, Essex were bowled out for 350, falling 79 runs behind. Doug Wright was the star with the ball for Kent, picking the last seven wickets to fall.
With swift runs being the need of the hour, Fagg doubled his pace in order to set a heft target. He brought up his fifty in the second innings seven minutes faster than he did in the first. At 69, he brought up 7,000 first-class runs and his hundred came up in just 69 minutes. At the end of day two he was unbeaten on 104, the lead stood at 221 and Kent had not lost a single wicket.
The runs kept flowing off Fagg’s bat even on day three, who brought up his 150 in just 119 minutes. Along with his opening partner Peter Sunnucks, he put on 283 for the first wicket before Sunnucks got run-out for 82. The wicket, however, did not deter Fagg from cutting loose. Kent cleverly sent their hard-hitting fast bowler Alan Watt at No. 3 and the duo added a further 30 runs before finally declaring on 313 for 1. Fagg had brought up his second double ton of the match in just 165 minutes. Out of his unbeaten 202, he scored 98 runs in just 90 minutes of the first session. He thus became the first-ever cricketer to score twin double hundreds in a first-class match – a feat that not many have gone onto emulate.
Essex lost both their openers in quick succession before rain started pouring and the match ended in a draw.