Cricket has a history of more than a century, and many great personalities have taken the sport by storm in their respective eras. But very few have been able to stretch on their careers, and maintain fitness and stamina for too long. This might have been done in the domestic circuit, but very rarely to the level of the international platform.
It is obvious that players who play for a longer time get more opportunities to create newer records, those records are sometimes beyond our imagination. You might have seen many cricketers who played for more than 20 years, but not many who played for 30 years or more.
On this note let us take a look at some of those cricketers, who played for a very long time, and push their limits beyond the age:
5. Wilfred Rhodes (1899-1930) (30 years)
One of the finest all-rounders of his time, Rhodes played 58 Tests for England. He is also one of the rarest players to have played 1100 first-class games. And above all this, he was equally successful in both of these.
In international games, Rhodes contributed for his team with 2325 runs and 127 wickets. He and Jack Hobbs were regular openers for England team. To concentrate on batting, Rhodes also had to give up his art of really slow bowling. But when the needs arrived to contribute as an all-rounder, he bowled as if he had never quitted his art of spinning.
Rhodes, even after 90 years of his retirement, remains the bowler with most first-class wickets in the history of the sport, with 4204 wickets to his name. Those wickets came at an average of 16.72, adding another feather of records to his cap. All these records still stand undaunted by any challenge, and it would be interesting to see if anyone will ever be able to break them.
4. Jack Hearne (1888-1923) (35 years)
Hearne features 4th in the list of all-time top wicket-takers in the history of cricket. His career of 639 games, spread over 35 years, saw him scalping 3061 wickets through his varied pace strategy. This is common nowadays, but Hearne was the one who defined this art of deceiving batsmen.
In 1899, he became the first bowler to scalp a hat-trick for England against Australia, when he sent back the trio of Clem Hill, Syd Gregory and Monty Noble in front of the Headingly crowd. He had a fabulous record in international tests, where he scalped 49 wickets in 12 games, with four 5-wicket hauls.
After retirement, Hearne took to the job of coaching. He was also crowned as the Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1892.
3. Brian Close (1949-1986) (37 years)
This man was the youngest cricketer to debut for England at the age of 18 years, and one of the oldest cricketers to retire. His international career wasn’t much fruitful, and Brian could have the honor of representing England only in 22 Tests and 3 ODIs in the 1970s.
However, the all-rounder retired as a domestic legend, with a record of 34994 runs and 1171 wickets in 786 first-class games with Somerset and Yorkshire. To glorify his record, Brian had 171 half-centuries, 52 tons and 43 five-wicket hauls to his name. Besides this, he was an excellent fielder, and held 813 catches in his career, placing him fourth on the all-time list.
Brian is said to be one of the strongest individuals, who was undaunted by injuries or anything else. This was the main reason behind the longevity of his career. Apart from a cricketer, he was also a fine golfer. He also served as the England selector for a brief while.
2. WG Grace (1865-1908) (43 years)
Do you know any player who opened in an international game at the age of 51? Well, William Gilbert Grace was one of those players. This man is credited for revolutionizing the sport and bringing to it spectatorship and fame.
In the era where he played, the international games were few, but domestic cricket had already taken shape. And his numbers in the domestic circuit speak volumes about his dominance in the sport. In 870 FC games spread over 44 seasons, the all-rounder scored 54211 runs, scalped 2809 wickets, and smashed 251 half-centuries and 124 tons.
These numbers are enough to tell the greatness of Grace. Even his international numbers can’t be overshadowed. He played all his 22 tests against Australia and was only the second batsman in the history of the sport to score a ton on debut (152 at Oval). Though he can’t be compared with modern-day cricketers, it needs no revision that he was one of the greatest of his time.
1. Cecil Wright (1959-2019) (60 years)
Age is just a number, indeed it is. But if you don’t believe this, you need to be cited with the example of Cecil Wright, who grabbed the spotlight very recently. On September 7, 2019, Wright featured in his last career game, turning out for Uppermill, against Pennine League side Springhead, at the age of 85.
You saw it right, Wright has put curtains on his illustrious career after playing for more than 60 years, where he played over 2 million games if his own words are to be believed. He has played with legends including Vivian Richards and Gary Sobers, only to name a few.
Wright will be remembered for generations to come. With over 7000 wickets, the paceman has defied all the boundations of age-factors. The longevity of his career will inspire everyone in some or the other means.
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