November 10, 2014

It never gets old

Last week Misbah-ul-Haq became the oldest player to score two centuries in a Test. Here's a look at some other players who were the oldest to achieve some other feats

The oldest centurion
Misbah-ul-Haq still has a way to go to overtake the oldest man to score a hundred in a Test. Jack Hobbs was 46 years 82 days old when he made his 15th and last century for England, 142 against Australia in Melbourne in 1928-29. Misbah was the 19th 40-year-old to score a Test century - earlier this year Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the 18th. One record that might be in Misbah's sights is the one as the oldest ODI century-maker - currently it's Sanath Jayasuriya, who was 39 in 2008-09.

The oldest wicket-taker
That's a nice easy one, as it was taken by the oldest Test cricketer. The Yorkshire and England allrounder Wilfred Rhodes was 52 when he played his final Test, in the Caribbean in 1929-30. In the second innings of his final Test, in Kingston, Rhodes dismissed the West Indian opener Clifford Roach, one of ten wickets for Rhodes in the four Tests of that long-ago series.

The oldest debutant
James Southerton, a slow left-armer who mostly played for Surrey, was 49 at the time of the inaugural Test match in Melbourne in 1876-77. In a rather sad double, he was also the first Test cricketer to die (in June 1880). Next on the list is the Pakistan offspinner Miran Bakhsh (47 in 1954-55), not far ahead of two 46-year-old Australians who both made their debuts in the 1928-29 Ashes series - offspinner Don Blackie and slow left-armer Bert Ironmonger. Both these venerable spinners played their club cricket for St Kilda in Melbourne - and the Junction Oval's pavilion is named after them.

The oldest to take a five-for
Bert Ironmonger (see above) was a couple of months shy of his 50th birthday when he recorded the astonishing figures of 5 for 6 and 6 for 18 against South Africa on a spiteful pitch at the MCG in 1931-32. South Africa were bowled out for 36 and 45: Wisden, with some understatement, observed that "Ironmonger once more proved practically unplayable". The following year, during the Bodyline series, he came close to becoming the only 50-year-old to claim a Test five-for: he took 4 for 26 in the second innings of the first match, in Melbourne. The oldest man to take a five-for on his debut was 37-year-old England legspinner Charles "Father" Marriott, with 5 for 37 and 6 for 59 against West Indies at The Oval in 1933, although John Traicos was 45 when he took 5 for 86 on his debut for Zimbabwe, against India in Harare in 1992-93 - but he had played three Tests for South Africa, 22 years previously.

The oldest double-centurion
Only five men have scored a Test double-century when past 40, the most recent being Graham Gooch, for England against New Zealand at Trent Bridge, in 1994. Jack Hobbs is there too (41 in 1924). But the oldest of all was the spiky South African opener Eric Rowan, who made 236 against England at Headingley in 1951, a week after turning 42. His captain on that tour, 40-year-old Dudley Nourse, made 208 in the first Test at Trent Bridge, despite a broken thumb.

The oldest triple-centurion
Only three men have made a Test triple-century after turning 35: Kumar Sangakkara finally got there, after a couple of near misses, earlier this year against Bangladesh in Chittagong, when he was 36. Graham Gooch was 37 when he amassed 333 against India at Lord's in 1990. But Test cricket's oldest triple-centurion was also its first: Andy Sandham was 39 years 272 days old when he made 325 for England against West Indies in Kingston in 1929-30, in what turned out to be his final Test match.

The oldest hat-trick taker
The oldest bowler to take a Test-hat-trick was the Gloucestershire offspinner Tom Goddard, who was 38 when he claimed three in three against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1938-39. The middle victim was Norman Gordon, the first Test cricketer to make it to the age of 100 (he died earlier this year, aged 103). Goddard's feat came late on Boxing Day 1938.

The oldest captain
England have the top three in this list: Walter Hammond was 43 when he skippered them for the last time, in New Zealand in 1946-47, and Gubby Allen was 45 when he captained in the West Indies the following season. But WG Grace was 50 when he played - and captained - in a Test for the last time, against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1899. The oldest man to captain on his Test debut was 42-year-old Nelson Betancourt of West Indies, in what turned out to be his only Test, against England in Port-of-Spain in 1929-30.

The oldest umpire
This is not definitive, as we don't have full birth details of several early umpires, but the oldest man known to have officiated in a Test was the Australian Alfred Jones, who was three months short of his 70th birthday during the final match of the 1928-29 Ashes series, in Melbourne. That was Jones' seventh Test, more than 25 years after his first. The oldest in a one-day international appears to be John Langridge, who was 69 when he stood in four matches during the 1979 World Cup, nearly 16 years after the last of his seven Tests in the white coat.

The oldest bowler-fielder combination
We have to go back to Wilfred Rhodes for this one. His final Test wicket, at the grand old age of 52, was the West Indian opener Clifford Roach in Kingston in 1929-30. And he was caught by George Gunn, who was over 50 himself. The aggregate of that fielding combination adds up to more than 103 years, which is going to be hard to beat.

The oldest record
A couple of records survive from the very first Test match, in Melbourne in 1876-77. We've already looked at James Southerton, the oldest debutant at 49. Rather more surprisingly, a batting record for that game remains intact, well over 2000 Test matches later, most of them on better pitches. Charles Bannerman made the very first Test century, and extended it to 165 before retiring hurt. Australia's eventual total was 245, which meant Bannerman scored 67.3% of the runs - and nobody has yet beaten that in a completed (all-out) innings. The nearest approach was Michael Slater's 123 out of 184 (66.8%) for Australia against England in Sydney in 1998-99.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 18347 on November 14, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Misbah once retires must decorated with a National Award. Great captain.

  • dummy4fb on November 10, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    To Prashnottz: Cricket in those days was just as competitive as it is now. Those occasions with 50 yr old plus players were in the very early days of test cricket and very very rare. Dont be mistaken.

  • prashnottz on November 10, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    jeez cricket back those days was a grandads' game wasn't it? Another reason why records from pre 1950s need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nice information as always, thanks Steven

  • KHATTAK_99 on November 10, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Misbah is a great player and he palys for Pakistan as a savior from last few years and led team by example . he is a true legend and an exemplary leader but at the same time most underrated player at time. SALUTE

  • KHATTAK_99 on November 10, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    Misbah is a great player.

  • cricfan83552016 on November 10, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    Bannerman also holds the Australian record for the highest score on debut - Archie Jackson got 164 and Kepler Wessells 162. Looks like a record which won't be broken but should be.

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