Sachin Tendulkar (L), Ricky Ponting (C) and Muttiah Muralitharan © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar (L), Ricky Ponting (C) and Muttiah Muralitharan © Getty Images

 

By David Green

 

After the first six days of the World Cup, we couldn’t help noticing at “The Reverse” Sweep that a number of players are – how should we put it – knocking on a bit. The number of 30-somethings on show certainly seems significant and even if nobody can quite match the feat of Sir Jack Hobbs of playing international cricket beyond 50th birthday, there are a number who will be qualifying for their bus pass in the not so distant future.The only team bucking the trend is Bangladesh, whose oldest player is spinner Abdur Razzak at 28. Anyway here is our XI of Golden Oldies, which with the oldest wicketkeeper in the tournament being Brad Haddin at a sprightly 33, sees Ricky Ponting wearing the gloves – yes, we were feeling sadistic when we picked this team:

 

The Golden Oldies XI:

 

1. John Davison (Canada. Age today: 40 years, 295 days) Where best to start then with the oldest man in the tournament and the only one the wrong side of 40? Davison scored a World Cup hundred off only 67 balls against West Indies in 2003, and would still probably be playing in the next tournament if it wasn’t for the dastardly ICC deciding to bar the minnows. The rotters. 

 

2. Sachin Tendulkar (India. 37 years, 310 days) Like a particularly excellent vintage of Chateau Lafitte, the Little Master keeps getting better and better with age. He already has 446 ODI caps and 47 hundreds, but will this World Cup be his last foray in the ODI arena?

 

3. Ricky Ponting (Australia. 36 years, 71 days) Unlike Tendulkar, if Ponting was a wine he would be well and truly corked such have his powers diminished over the last two years. As the runs have dried up, the frequency of temper tantrums have increased. Television sets across India, beware of Mr Angry!

 

4. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies. 36 years, 196 days) Chanderpaul is one of those players who seem to have been around for ever. Maybe it is because all of those tedious nudge and nurdle innings have blended into one long nightmare. Indeed, Chanderpaul has been around so long, he may even have had a cabin in Noah’s Ark.

 

5. Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan. 36 years, 276 days) It seems strange that a batsman of Misbah’s ability has only played 64 ODI, but he has been in and out of the Pakistan side more times than an overused jack from his box. The younger Pakistan batsmen could learn from Misbah’s resilience and calmness under pressure.

 

6. Steve Tikolo (Kenya. 39 years, 248 days) The veteran of five World Cups is widely regarded as one of the best batsmen never to play Test cricket. Judging by his performances against New Zealand and Pakistan in this tournament however, it would seem that Tikolo’s powers have gone in the opposite direction to his girth. Makes Jesse Ryder look slim.

 

7. Trent Johnston (Ireland. 36 years, 305 days) Ireland’s adopted Aussie challenges Scott Styris (another who is the wrong side of 35) as the ugliest man in the tournament. In fact there is something positively Transylvanian about the features of the dogged all-rounder. Given that vampires are immortal, perhaps Johnston is actually much older than his reported 36 years?

 

8. Andre Botha (Ireland. 35 years, 169 days) Ireland’s other golden oldie and adopted South African (well England are doing it, so why not Ireland too?) will always be remembered for his magnificent two for five from eight overs in the shock victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup.

 

9. Brett Lee (Australia. 34 years, 112 days) We were actually surprised when we saw that Lee was only 34 – making him the youngster in this side. However, given that he still manages to bowl consistently over 90mph, Lee’s body is closer to that of a creaking septuagenarian. Even so, Lee was still too good for England in the recent ODI series and gave Australia the attack leader it sorely lacked during the Ashes series. Just don’t let him sing.

 

10. Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan. 35 years, 199 days) Has anyone ever sweated as much as Shoaib? Maybe it is a side-effect of genital warts or even the alleged liposuction operation he had (which surely he should claim a refund for?). No one can fault his effort though, even if it is restricted to two over spells at most these days.

 

11. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka. 38 years, 317 days) The World Cup will be Murali’s last hurrah as an international cricketer and no doubt he’ll smile his way through the whole tournament. Will he bow out with a second World Cup winner’s medal? A billion Indians hope not.

 

(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also @TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfil his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)