Dwayne Bravo believes "40 is the new 30". Bravo, who became the first bowler to 500 wickets in T20 cricket this week, also stressed that it was a "myth" to believe T20 cricket was meant only for the youth, saying a player should be judged by performances and not age.
"Yeah, 40 is the new 30," Bravo told ESPNcricinfo this week. "Anyone who challenges or questions our age - I don't think anyone of us, our performance has dipped or dropped because of our age. As a matter of fact, most of us even perform just as good or even better. Age is just a number. Don't judge a player by his age, but judge him by his performance and his ability to continue to play."
Bravo, 36, is part of the band of senior players that have not only been part of teams that are serial title winners, but has also been among the most valuable players across both global tournaments as well as domestic T20 franchise leagues.
The "us" he refers to above includes the likes of MS Dhoni (39), Chris Gayle (40), Shane Watson (39), Imran Tahir (41), Shoaib Malik (38) and Lasith Malinga who turns 38 on Friday. Along with Bravo all these men continue to be match-winners and magnets for young players to seek guidance.
ALSO READ - Bravo @ 500: A T20 bowling phenom
Some of these players might not turn up for every match, but they remain a potential threat for the opposition as Malinga proved in the 2019 IPL final, which Mumbai Indians won against Chennai Super Kings, the franchise that Bravo plays for. Incidentally, Bravo's IPL team-mate Tahir, at 40, was the highest wicket-taker last season, winning the purple cap.
"It's a myth, yes," Bravo said when asked if the widely held belief that T20 cricket is meant for youngsters was not correct. "You can't beat experience. And the knowledge that we have for the game - I was the part of the every single T20 tournament around the world and I contribute to my team. Apart from being the leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket, along with [Kieron] Pollard, Andre Russell, myself - we also win most titles as well."
In January, while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, Gayle said he would like to play as long as possible and did not rule out turning up when he would be 45. That there is substance in Bravo's comments was proven by 48-year old Mumbai legspinner Pravin Tambe who made headlines on Wednesday by becoming the first Indian to play in the CPL. Tambe is part of the Trinbago Knight Riders side, which also includes Bravo.
Bravo will turn 37 this October. Last December, he had revoked his retirement to play T20Is for West Indies after the current team management, led by head coach Phil Simmons and Kieron Pollard asked him to mentor young bowlers. Pre-pandemic Bravo would have been optimistic about playing in the T20 World Cup, which was originally scheduled for October-November in Australia, but that tournament has now been postponed to the same window in 2021 in India.
Bravo still remained hopeful and confident because of one reason. "I always pride myself on being fit, cricket-fit especially," he said. "As people say, I am ageing well. I am turning 37 but it is like I am turning 27. I am still feeling good about myself and my body. Let's see how the rest of the year pans out and hopefully 2021 is a better year worldwide for everybody and things can get back to normal and then [I will] take the decision."
After playing in the CPL, Bravo will travel to the UAE in September to join the Super Kings in IPL, which will be played between September 19 and November 10. Bravo has won the IPL twice with the Super Kings and remains one of their most important bowlers, especially in the middle and death overs.
Bravo is also one of the only two bowlers to have won the purple cap twice in the IPL along with Bhuvnewshar Kumar who won it back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. Bravo had won it in 2013 and 2015. In 2014, when he missed major chunk of IPL due to injury, Super Kings' captain Dhoni said Bravo's absence hurt the balance of the team and eventually their title chances.
More recently in the 2019 IPL, Bravo picked up 11 wickets in 12 matches at an economy rate of 8 01 and strike rate of 22. Asked if wining the Most Valuable Player award in IPL, a feat he has not achieved, was a desire, Bravo said he had different goals.
"I am not interested [in] the Most Valuable Player [award] in the IPL. I am interested in being able to contribute to my team Chennai Super Kings' success. Being as someone who bat at No. 7 and bowl near the death [and] back-end of the innings, it is hard to be the MVP. These are things I don't set up myself to t be. I want to be a player that contributes with bat and ball and in the field for his team to win cricket games. I've been fortunate to be one of the two-time purple cap winner. And that's good enough."
Dwayne Bravo is the brand ambassador for SBOTOP, an online gaming brand