Playing cricket for your country is often tough as there is plenty of competition to make it into the squad. It also takes a lot of commitment from an individual to dedicate almost his entire childhood to age-group cricket in order to grow in stature.
Once a player enters the international arena, they face pressures of different kinds as other cricketers are always waiting for an opportunity to get into the XI. So those who get into the team need to be consistent, ideally for a long period of time.
Only a few players are able to achieve that consistency with their longevity and become greats of the game. The age factor sometimes demotivates a player to keep on trying for a comeback.
But for some cricketers, age is just a number as they have not just played international cricket pretty late in their careers, but have also succeeded at it. Here's a look at five such players:
#5 James Southerton (49 years & 119 days)
James Southerton still holds the record for the oldest player ever to make a debut in a Test. He was initially a batter who turned into an incredible left-arm spinner during his first-class career.
In 286 games, he picked up a sensational 1682 wickets and made it into the XI for the second Test ever played in the history of cricket. Southerton picked up seven wickets in the two Tests that he played for England in 1877.
#4 George Gunn (50 years & 303 days)
George Gunn played just 15 Tests for England, but was arguably one of the best first-class players of his time. He also has a case for being the best ever player produced by his county Nottinghamshire.
In 15 games for England, Gunn scored a decent 1120 runs at an average of 40 with two hundreds and seven half-centuries to his name. However, he was a giant in first-class matches overall, scoring more than 35,000 runs in 643 games.
He also picked up 66 wickets in first-class career and had the ability to be a hard-hitter with the occasional grace of timing. Gunn played his last Test against West Indies at Kingston in 1930 when he was close to his 51st birthday.
#3 William Grace (50 years & 320 days)
William Grace is deservedly regarded as the best ever batter produced by England due to his mind-boggling record in first-class matches.
In 879 matches, he scored above 54,000 runs with a ridiculous 124 centuries to his name. Grace played 22 Tests for England, scoring nearly 1100 runs with a couple of hundreds.
He played his last Test just 45 days prior to his 51st birthday and that sums up the incredible longevity that Grace's highly-successful career had.
#2 Bert Ironmonger (50 years 327 days)
The only non-English player on this list, Australian Bert Ironmonger didn't enjoy much success against their arch-rivals. However, he still managed to pick up 74 wickets in the 14 games that he represented his country in.
The left-arm spinner's best performance in internationals came against South Africa in 1931-32 where he picked up 31 wickets in four Tests. He also picked up 464 wickets in 96 first-class games.
#1 Wilfred Rhoades (52 years & 165 days)
George Gunn's last game for England was also the last international match for Wilfred Rhoades, who is the oldest player to play international cricket.
Rhoades is regarded as one of the best all-rounders England have produced. He picked up above 4000 wickets in over 1100 first-class games and also managed to score close to 40,000 runs.
He played 58 Tests for England, picking up 127 wickets and also scoring 2325 runs. Arguably Yorkshire's best cricketer, Rhoades' record of being the oldest international cricketer is unlikely to be broken.