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Does Afridi’s birthday tweet confirm a new ODI world record holder?

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Shahid Afridi’s 37-ball hundred in his first ODI knock remains one of the most remarkable innings in cricket history.

Not only did it set a record for the fastest ODI ton, which stood for almost 20 years until a Corey Anderson blitz at Queenstown, but it also means Afridi still holds the record for the youngest player to hit an ODI century. Most archives list his date of birth as March 1, 1980, meaning he would have been just 16 years and 217 days old on that magical day in Nairobi.

However, a recent tweet from the all-rounder has thrown the record into doubt. Afridi tweeted earlier today, “Thank you very much for all the lovely birthday wishes – 44 today!”. That would make his year of birth 1977, and his age at the time of that maiden ton 19 years and 217 days old.

There are seven men listed as making an ODI ton at a younger age, with the youngest of those Afghanistan’s Usman Ghani, who scored 118 against Zimbabwe in 2014.

Adding to the confusion is Afridi’s autobiography, which lists his year of birth as 1975. However, that passage still claims he was 19 years old at the time of his debut, suggesting it’s the most recent age which is correct.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Afridi’s longevity is incredible. Either he started out absurdly young and is still going strong as he nudges past 40. Or he started out pretty young, and is still going strong well into his forties. Truly, this is no ordinary cricketer. Perhaps the constraints of the calendar simply don’t apply to him as they would to us mere mortals. Maybe the linear passage of time is simply another convention to be thwarted, another constraint to be bent to his will. While it’s normally a cliché, perhaps it’s really the case that for Afridi, age is just a number.

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