We often hear people saying ‘Age is just a number’ but to witness it in a sport like a cricket is rare and unique. While most players hang their boots in the late 30s, there are some who had comfortably crossed the mark and continued playing for their side past 40 years of age. They did face the limitations that came with growing age but their grit and determination allowed them to overcome all and set a unique record for themselves. The common wisdom that records are meant to be broken might not hold true in this case, and it will remain unharmed in the long history of cricket. This article particularly focusses on the debut aspect of these players and appreciates them for achieving an improbable landmark in their career. In the below piece, we look at 5 such players who made their international debut very late in their career:
1. Nolan Clarke – 47 years 240 days
This Netherlands cricketer proudly attains the top spot in this illustrious list. Clarke made his debut against New Zealand during the 4th game of the Wills World Cup of 1996 at Vadodara. The Kiwis, who batted first managed a commanding total of 307-8 on the board, owing to fighting fifties by Spearman and Fleming, who scored 68 and 66 runs respectively.
In reply, the Dutch were restricted to 188-7 where Clarke could only manage a paltry 14 runs off 21 balls. Lefebvre top-scored for the Netherlands with a promising 45 off 64 balls while Chris Harris was the pick of the bowler for the opposition with figures of 3-24.
2. Norman Gifford – 44 years 359 days
This left-arm orthodox bowler from England made it to the 2nd spot in the list after making his dream debut against Australia during the 2nd game of a quadrangular series contested in 1985 at Sharjah. Put in to bat first, England could only reach a total of 177-8 on the board where Robinson was the top-scorer with 73-ball 37. Allan Border was a surprise revelation with the ball for the Aussies with figures of 3-21.
The target, though, not the biggest going around, proved a bit hefty for the Australians as they won the game by just 2 wickets and 0 balls to spare. Wood chipped in with a vital knock of 35 off 50 balls while Gifford bowled economically finishing with figures of 0-27 from his 10 overs.
3. Rahul Sharma – 43 years 306 days
A top-order batsman of Indian origin, Sharma achieved this feat after making his debut for Hong Kong against Bangladesh during the 1st game of the Asia Cup in 2004 at Colombo. The latter while batting first managed a tricky total of 221-9 on the board in their 50 overs on the back of a gritty 68 off 113 balls by Omar. Gull did the damage for the opposition with figures of 3-46.
Given the inexperience and frailty in the Hong Kong line-up, Bangladesh were successful in skittling them out for just 105, winning the game by 116 runs. Sharma, who had a great chance of leaving his stellar impact behind, failed and could only score 10 runs off 21 balls, adding further to the misery.
4. Lennie Louw – 43 years 236 days
A right-hand batsman from Namibia accomplished the feat against Zimbabwe during the 2nd game of the ICC World Cup in 2003 at Harare. The hosts who batted first piled up a mountain of runs on the board, conjuring 340-2 in their 50 overs. Craig Wishart and Grant Flower were the chief contributors for the batting team, with scores of 172 and 78 respectively. While Louw bowled satisfactorily in his 10 overs finishing with figures of 1-60.
With the target reduced to 191 in 25.1 overs, Namibia crumbled under the scoreboard pressure, managing just 104-5 in 25.1 overs. Zimbabwe rightly came on top, winning the game comprehensively by 86 runs (D/L method).
5. Flavian Aponso – 43 years 112 days
Aponso, also a Dutch player, made his way into this list during the same against New Zealand at the Wills World Cup, 1996 as Clarke. The cricketer played a crucial role during the bowling innings, getting the important scalp of Parore at 55 with his effective right-arm off-break, ending with figures of 1-60.
Unfortunately, Aponso couldn’t quite shine with the bat, getting out for a mere score of 11 and assisting the opposition in winning big, a margin of 119 runs to be precise.