Sachin Tendulkar is young at 40 compared to these great performances well past their fourth decade

Geoff Boycott scored 137 in the Ashes Test at The Oval in 1981 at the age of 40 years 310 days. This was the last occasion when a batsman past 40 scored a Test hundred © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar celebrates his 40th birthday today [April 24, 2013]. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at a few great performances by batsmen after they had turned 40.
Sachin Tendulkar, the man with one of the longest careers in the history of the sport, turns 40 today. Carping critics who take sadistic delight in pointing Tendulkar’s age as a case against his continuing to play Test cricket, are probably those with little or no knowledge of cricket history.

Here, then, is a list of some phenomenal performances by batsmen past their 40th birthdays, ordered by their age at the beginning of the Tests.
1. Charlie Macartney, 151 — Australia vs England, Headingley 1926 — 40 years 13 days

There were three hundreds in the Australian innings: other than Macartney, Bill Woodfull and Arthur Richardson both scored hundreds. After Maurice Tate removed Warren Bardsley in the first ball of the Test, Macartney brought out all sorts of strokes from his repertoire, scoring 151 in 172 minutes with 21 boundaries 1 scored out of a partnership of only 235 with Woodfull.

England were forced to follow-on.
2. Eric Rowan, 143 — South Africa vs Australia, Durban 1950 – 40 years 184 days

Rowan opened the batting, and took on an ensemble Australian attack consisting of Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller, Bill Johnston, and Ian Johnson. He scored 143 out of the 264 South Africa scored during his stay, and the eventual score was 311. Though Hugh Tayfield routed Australia for 75, Dudley Nourse did not enforce the follow-on, and Neil Harvey produced a magical 151 not out to lead Australia to a historic win.

It remains the only occasion that a side has lost a Test after not enforcing the follow-on.
3. Dudley Nourse, 208— South Africa vs England, Trent Bridge 1951 — 40 years 207 days

Nourse walked out to bat at 107 for two, and was last out for a marathon 555-minute 208 — when he was approaching his 41st birthday. His innings consisted of 25 fours. What was really commendable that Nourse had batted with a broken thumb, and had declined pain-killing injections on the ground that they might numb his hand and spoil his grip.

South Africa managed to reach 483, and won the Test by 71 runs — their first win over England after 16 years.
4. Geoff Boycott, 137 — England vs Australia, The Oval 1981 — 40 years 310 days

In the series usually remembered as “Botham’s Ashes”, Boycott shone with the bat as he closed on to his 41st birthday (though Botham took 10 wickets). After Australia scored 344, Boycott held fort as Dennis Lillee kept on making steady inroads in the England batting line-up. He was eventually seventh out for a patient 137, and the innings turned out to be crucial in the end as time ran out with England seven wickets down.
5. ‘Patsy’ Hendren, 77 &205 not out — England vs WI, Queen’s Park Oval 1929-30 — 40 years 361 days

As Herman Griffith took five wickets, Hendren stood tall amidst the ruins, top-scoring with 77 out of a team score of 208 from 12 for three. Then, trailing by 46 in the first innings, England found themselves at 52 for three when Les Ames walked out to join Hendren. The partnership was a treat for sore eyes, as the young wicket-keeper and the veteran batsman put up 237 runs for the fourth wicket in no time.

Even after Ames got out, Hendren stood firm, and finally remained unbeaten with 205 with 29 boundaries. Bill Voce took seven for 70, and West Indies lost by a mile.
6. ‘Patsy’ Hendren, 123 — England vs West Indies, Bourda 1929-30 — 41 years 16 days

A total of 617 was always going to be a tough ask in the fourth innings against Learie Constantine, but Hendren was equal to the task. It was a battle between the two greats: as Constantine took five for 87, Hendren stuck around when nobody else managed to get a fifty. Though England were bowled out for 327 and lost by plenty, Hendren remained virtually unvanquished, being ninth out for a glorious 123 with 21 boundaries — just after three weeks of his Queen’s Park Oval epic.
7. Cyril Washbrook, 98 — England vs Australia, Headingley 1956 — 41 years 219 days

The veteran Washbrook came out to join Peter May after a hostile Ron Archer had reduced England to 17 for 3. Washbrook displayed the courage and patience he was renowned for, and reminded the old-timers of his heydays by scoring an invaluable 98, adding 187 with May for the fourth wicket.

Jim Laker and Tony Lock then routed Australia by an innings.
8. Warwick Armstrong, 123 not out — Australia vs England, Melbourne 1920-21 — 41 years 265 days

After England scored 284, they had Australia in trouble at 153 for 5, which was when Armstrong walked out to join Jack Gregory. The pair added 145 in no time, Gregory scoring 77, but Armstrong batted on. The “Big Ship” remained unbeaten on 123, and helped add 91 more for the last four wickets.

Securing a 105-run first-innings lead, England eased to an eight-wicket victory after Arthur Mailey claimed nine for 121.
9. Bobby Simpson, 176 and 39 — Australia vs India,Perth 1977-78 — 41 years 359 days

The Australian selectors had to recall the 41-year old Bobby Simpson to rescue them when the team was hit by Kerry Packer’s wallet. Trailing the series 1-0, India put up 402 in the second Test. Simpson came out to bat at 49 for three, and added 84 with John Dyson and 101 with Steve Rixon. He was ninth out with the score on 388, scoring a 176 that would change the course of the Test.

With Australia on 195 for four chasing 339 for a victory, Simpson came to the forefront again, scoring a crucial 39 and adding exactly 100 with Peter Toohey to clinch the Test for Australia. On a side-note, he had also picked up the wickets of ChetanChauhan and Mohinder Amarnath.
10. Jack Hobbs, 115 and 57 —vs Australia, Sydney 1924-25 — 42 years 3 days

It was a timeless Test, and Australia piled up a formidable 450. Hobbs counterattacked a fine Australian attack, put up 157 with Herbert Sutcliffe, and when he finally fell for 115, England were 202 for four. Inevitably a collapsed followed, and when England were set to chase 605 for a victory, Hobbs and Sutcliffe set the tone — albeit in vain — by putting up 110, Hobbs scoring 57.
11. Eric Rowan, 236 and 60 not out — South Africa vs England, Headingley 1951 — 42 years 6 days

Just past his 42nd birthday, Rowan showed incredible stamina as he batted for a marathon 550 minutes in South Africa’s first innings, scoring a dominant 236 – achieving the highest score by a South African in the process. With nothing to play for, he carried on, scoring an unbeaten 60.

Rowan’s 236 is the highest score ever by a batsman past his 40th birthday.
12. Warren Bardsley, 193 not out — Australia vs England, Lord’s 1926 — 43 years 202 days

In an innings where no other batsman crossed 40, Bardsleycarried his bat through an innings in his 44th year — defying Harold Larwood and Tate. He scored 193 out of a team total of 383, and despite the fact that all five Englishmen who batted scored hundreds,Australia managed to salvage a draw.
13. Jack Hobbs, 100 — England vs Australia, The Oval 1926 — 43 years 241 days

Coming out to bat 22 runs in arrears, Hobbs and Sutcliffe pulled off what can easily be classified as one of the best displays of batting on a gluepot against bowlers of the calibre of Mailey and ClarrieGrimmett. The two great spinners sent down over after over, but the legendary duo remained intact.

Sutcliffe carried on even after Hobbs fell for a round 100; the senior partner had dominated the 172-run partnership. England went on to win the Test by 289 runs.
14. Brian Close, 60 and 46 — England vs West Indies, Lord’s 1976 — 45 ye ars 114 days

With Andy Roberts and Michael Holding on the loose in the famous ‘grovel’ series, the English selectors brought back Brian Close in the squad. Close gutted it out, top-scoring with 60 in the first innings. Coming out to bat at 29 for 2 (plus Barry Wood retired hurt), Close defied Roberts and Holding, often taking blows on his body – adding 83 with David Steele, and almost leading England to an improbable victory.
15. Jack Hobbs, 49 — England vs Australia, Melbourne 1928-29 — 46 years 13 days

England, set to chase 332 on a wet, treacherous Melbourne wicket against Grimmett, sent out the greatest opening pair of all time — Hobbs and Sutcliffe— the masters of the ‘sticky’. As the Sun came out on the uncovered pitch, it began to dry, and batting became virtually impossible.

However, Hobbs and Sutcliffe batted on, and when Hobbs eventually fell after a superlative display of technique, concentration, and determination for 49, the spectators stood up in universal acknowledgement. Several critics acknowledge this as The Master’s greatest innings ever.

Before being dismissed, Hobbs sent a message (while asking for fresh gloves) to Percy Chapman, asking him to promote Douglas Jardine (a better batsman on a ‘sticky’) above Walter Hammond. Jardine added 94 with Sutcliffe, and the great Yorkshireman guided England to a three-wicket triumph.
16. Jack Hobbs, 142 and 65 — England vs Australia, Melbourne 1928-29 — 46 years 82 days

Even after turning 46 Hobbs’ appetite for runs did not reduce. After Jack White won the toss later that series, Hobbs opened with Douglas Jardine, and added 64, 82, and 89 for the first three wickets, scoring a staggering 142 out of the 235 scored during his tenure at the wicket. Even at this era of fitness almost a fairytale score, given his age.

He did not stop, though — top-scoring again in the second innings as he scored 65. However, despite his heroics, Australia won the Test by five wickets.
17. WG Grace, 66 — England vs Australia, Lord’s 1896 — 47 years 340 days

Twenty five days short of his 48th birthday, The Doctor decided to pull out a special innings out of his hat against his old foes on the most coveted ground of all. After Tom Richardson bowled out Australia for 53, WG Grace strode out to open against Ernie Jones and George Giffen, and on a wretched Lord’s pitch, he scored a gutsy 66, adding 105 for the second wicket with Bobby Abel. The reflexes did not seem to have gone anywhere.

Australia never recovered from the partnership (succumbing again to Richardson) – and despite their fourth-wicket put on a double-hundred partnership as the wicket improved, England eased to a six-wicket victory. The Grand Daddy of Cricket even bowled six overs in the second innings.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)