5 oldest Test captaincy debuts since 2000

A hardworking cricketer, Jacobs led the side for a brief period in both Test and ODIs

Challenges in the life of a sportsperson are not always limited to the action on the field; with each passing year, an aging body craves for attention, and a youthful mind becomes tired and dodgy. To sustain one’s game at the international level, especially with today’s choc-a-bloc schedules, it’s imperative to possess a sturdy mindset that can maintain the resolve to carry on, despite a failing body and an exhausted brain. The task becomes all the more taxing when there is the added, correction mammoth, responsibility of captaining ten other men, who look up to you for advice and direction.

Here are five cricketers from the recent past, who got a taste of captaincy in the twilight of their careers:

#5 Ridley Jacobs (35 years, 12 days)

A bulky wicket-keeper batsman who was effective, if not elegant, Jacobs was one of the few stumpers who got an extended run in the West Indies team in the 90s. There was David Williams, there was Junior Murray and later Courtney Browne. Yet, a spirited Jacobs ended up playing 65 Tests and 147 ODIs for the country, rising up the ranks to eventually become the captain of the national side in both Tests and ODIs.

The knack of making noteworthy contributions for the team’s cause helped him secure the vice-captain’s role under Carl Hooper. Later, when the latter became unavailable for a series against Bangladesh in 2002, the captaincy mantle was given to Jacobs, who became the sixth oldest West Indian to make his captaincy debut, at the age of 35.

#4 Misbah-ul-Haq (36 years, 168 days)

Misbah-ul-Haq continues to lead the Pakistani side with gusto, even at the age of 42

Post the 2010 spot-fixing saga that threatened to ruin cricket in Pakistan forever, the team needed a responsible individual to keep the players focussed on the game. Misbah-ul-Haq, with his no-nonsense approach and unflappable temperament, seemed to be the apt choice, and he continues to attest the decision with solid captaincy, even six years later.

Now 42, he doesn’t seem to slow down as far as his hunger for runs is concerned. He’s now got a core set of players whose performance recently helped Pakistan scale the top of the Test rankings. But things were bleak when he took over the role as a 36-year old in 2010, especially because elder players are always scrutinized in the subcontinent.

#3 Floyd Reifer (36 years, 351 days)

Reifer’s rise to captaincy took place under controversial circumstances

This Barbadian’s international career makes for an interesting read. His stint at the top-most level was spread over 12 years, but accounted for only 15 matches. In those 15 matches, he managed to get the Test and ODI captaincy of the national side.

The controversial boycotting of the first XI, a day before the start of a Test, against Bangladesh in 2009 made the Board scrimmage to find a quick replacement for the players. Reifer, who had last played a Test in 1999, made a sensational comeback, leading the team for the first time at the age of 36 years and 351 days. The comeback didn’t last long, and he was sidelined once the main players came back.

#2 Anil Kumble (37 years, 36 days)

Anil Kumble took over the Test captaincy from state-mate Rahul Dravid

When Rahul Dravid resigned as Team India’s captain in 2007, the team needed a responsible head to wade the team over tough waters. A horrid World Cup campaign made the team morale hit rock-bottom, controversial coach Greg Chappell had left his job, and the youngsters were still not ripe enough to take over the reins in longest format, especially with major overseas tours lined up in the near future.

It was a fitting tribute to one of India’s greatest match-winners and one of the most astute readers of the game. Kumble ascended the post as a 37 year old in 2007, leading the side in 16 Tests until his retirement in 2008. He later conceded that he became the captain by default, because no one else was willing to take up the job.

Rangana Herath (38 years, 225 days on 29th October, 2016)

Rangana Herath is set to captain Sri Lanka in the absence of Mathews and Chandimal

The 38-year old left-arm spinner is set to become the oldest Sri Lankan cricketer to make his debut as captain since Somachandra De Silva 33 years ago. A late bloomer at the international level, especially because he remained under the shadows of a certain Muttiah Muralitharan, Herath is amongst the handful of players who made their international debut before 2000 and are still active cricketers.

With regular captain Angelo Mathews sidelined with a torn calf muscle, the board decided to hand over the reins to the eldest statesman in the side, who is set to make his captaincy debut in his 74th Test. He’ll become only the second bowler after De Silva to lead a Sri Lankan Test side.

Also read: Rangana Herath appointed Sri Lanka's Test captain for Zimbabwe tour

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Edited by Staff Editor
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