Old and bold: Herath poised for new mark

Pakistani retirements pave the way for Sri Lankan veteran to claim another Test honour Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have presided over Test cricket in recent times as the sport’s two senior members but the Pakistan legends are set to hand over the baton to the next in line when they call time on their glittering careers next month. Claiming the honour in their stead will be Sri Lanka veteran Rangana Herath, the left-arm spinner also set to become the only active Test cricketer who debuted in the 1990s when Misbah and Younis finish taking part in Pakistan’s three-match series against West Indies. To salute the Pakistani champions, we’ve taken a look at Test cricket’s oldest current players:

James Anderson (England) 34 years, 255 days

England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker will turn 35 later this year as he sets his sights on what shapes as one last Ashes tour later this year. Entering his 15th year as an international cricketer, Anderson looks to have lost none his skill with the ball and, in English conditions especially, he remains as dangerous as any fast bowler in the world. The veteran collected 30 wickets in six Tests during the last northern summer and with 467 career scalps, the chance to become the sixth man to the magical 500-wicket mark is within reach.


Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka) 39 years, 23 days

He’s earned a reputation as one of the wiliest bowlers going around and the left-arm spin wizard will soon be the oldest active Test cricketer after the retirements of Misbah and Younis. Having lived in the shadow of Test cricket’s all-time leading wicket-taker Muthiah Muralidaran, Herath has established himself as one of the leading slow bowlers in the world since the Sri Lankan legend’s retirement in 2010. The veteran surpassed Daniel Vettori’s mark of 366 wickets to become Test cricket’s most successful left-arm spinner and he now has Wasim Akram (414 wickets) in his sights for the overall left-arm Test record. Herath has shown no signs of slowing down, confounding Australia on their doomed three-Test tour to the island nation in August, picking up 28 wickets to lead Sri Lanka to a 3-0 series win.


Marlon Samuels (West Indies) 36 years, 65 days

Some might say he’s old enough to know better, but Jamaican firebrand Samuels continues to tread the fine lines of cricket’s laws as one of the sport’s most controversial characters. Yet the irony is that Samuels is one of the few front-line West Indians to have at least semi-regularly turned out for the Test side over the past decade or more, having debuted against Australia as a 19-year-old way back in December 2000. In the intervening years, the abrasive right-hander has scored seven hundreds in 71 Tests, averaging 32.64. Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan have scored more runs for the Caribbean side since.


Dilruwan Perera (Sri Lanka) 34 years, 263 days

There were some 14 years between Perera’s first-class and Test debuts, the latter coming against Pakistan in January 2014, in which he surprisingly made 95 on his first trip to the middle. Since, the off-spinner has played 16 Tests as part of a two- or three-man attack, generally led by elder statesman Herath. In that time he’s taken an impressive 75 wickets at 28.58, including four five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket match against Australia last August. Since first appearing for Sri Lanka, the veteran spinner has been Test cricket’s 14th most prolific wicket-taker.


Jeetan Patel (New Zealand) 36 years, 339 days

The off-spinner’s cricket journey hasn’t been conventional but Patel has had a second coming in international cricket over the past six months. A standout on the domestic scene in New Zealand, he made his Test debut in 2006 but found opportunities limited with star tweaker Vettori a lock in the side.

Recruited in 2009 as Warwickshire’s overseas player, Patel evolved into one of the best spinners on the English domestic scene and to date has 314 first-class wickets at 26.04 for the county.

He turned down a recall from New Zealand in 2014 to preserve his contract with Warwickshire and at that stage, it appeared his international career was over. Having admitted himself he’d thought as much after a near four-year absence from Test cricket, Patel returned to the Black Caps fold on their tour of India in September and has now played in the Kiwis’ last five Tests. 

 

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