Age did not seem to be a barrier for these players, who continued to ace the one-day format and outshine their contemporaries deep into their careers. The selection wasn’t easy: several others with quality numbers miss out, including a fairly deserving 12th man.
Statistics mentioned are for players aged 35 and over.
46 ODIs, 2,065 runs @ 49.16, 7 100s, HS: 200*
Be it an under 23 XI or over 35, or anything in between, Tendulkar will find his way into an almost any ODI XI. The older Sachin wasn’t as aggressive but he remained a brilliant run-accumulator nonetheless. The longevity allowed him to finally clinch a World Cup after scoring the second-most runs in the tournament, a year after he became the first male ODI double centurion at the age of 37.
40 ODIs, 1,899 runs @ 54.25, 5 100s, HS: 181*
The leading run-getter in Australia’s victorious 2007 World Cup, Hayden was arguably more destructive towards the end of his career. He gave a little teaser ahead of the World Cup, slamming a career-best, unbeaten 181 in New Zealand and carried that form to the Caribbean, slamming three hundreds, and striking at 101.07 to help Australia win their third consecutive title. He finished on a high, bowing out with scores of 54, 82 & 55.
116 ODIs, 4,674 runs @ 45.82, 12 100s, HS: 161*
We’re cheating a bit here. Dilshan never really played as a non-opener after turning 35. In fact, most of his thirties were spent as a revamped opener, where he found a second wind. His thirties including two run-filled World Cup campaigns (2011 & 2015). No player has scored more ODI runs after turning 35. The 43 wickets his off-spin claimed are an added bonus.
71 ODIs, 3,392 runs @ 57.49, 11 100s, HS: 169
Joining his long-time Sri Lankan teammate is their former captain, whose final year in ODI cricket was as good as any in his career. After announcing that the 2015 World Cup would be his swansong, Sangakkara reeled off four consecutive hundreds in the competition. In fact, after turning 35, his career numbers really skyrocketed: he scored nearly a quarter of his career runs in the final 71 games of 404-ODI career.
33 ODIs, 1,406 runs @ 52.07, 5 100s, HS: 118
One of the few pre-21st century cricketers to grace this XI, Abbas had a fine run in the final few years of his career, at a time when one-dayers were still morphing into the format we know today. This phase included four centuries in the span of three months, including three tons on the trot against India. Another century came in Pakistan’s run to the semi-final of the 1983 World Cup.
72 ODIs, 1,855 runs @ 47.56, 1 100, HS: 134
One can say that Dhoni’s last few years were a shadow of his prime, but Dhoni continued to be a revered presence in the India camp. The period after the 2015 World Cup had several questioning his place in the side, but he stretched on to feature for one more World Cup, while still maintaining a healthy average. Post 35, no other keeper had more ODI dismissals than him.
80 ODIs, 2,071 runs @ 36.89, HS: 84*; 82 wickets @ 30.78, BBI: 4-37
The hero to multiple generations of aspiring Pakistan cricketers, Imran had a distinctly upward curve in the second half of his career, in both Tests and ODIs. He hit 15 out of his 19 ODI fifties after turning 35, while also taking the most wickets by any quick bowler in his late thirties. The biggest achievement, though, was the World Cup triumph of 1992, when Imran, aged 39, led his side to a historic maiden title.
40 ODIs, 62 wickets @ 21.51, 1 five-for, BBI: 5-28
The pace might have dropped a notch or two, but Wasim was still a formidable swing bowler entering the 21st century. The bowling average during this time was marginally better than his career numbers, as was the strike rate. His swansong came during the 2003 World Cup – where he picked up 12 wickets at 16.75 – including his 500th ODI scalp, the first and only seamer so far to reach the landmark.
94 ODI, 147 wickets @ 26.19, 3 five-fors, BBI: 7-45
His entry into international cricket might have been belated, but Tahir played long enough to make up for all the lost time. The indefatigable leg-spinner continued to take wickets well into his thirties, and remains the only bowler to have taken more than 100 ODI wickets after turning 35. At the 2015 World Cup, he became the third-oldest men’s player to claim a maiden ODI five-wicket haul. Aged 40, he bowled the first over of the 2019 World Cup, and took a wicket with his second ball.
56 ODIs, 87 wickets @ 24.12, 2 five-fors, BBI: 5-29
ODI cricket’s greatest ever wicket-taker, Muralitharan enjoyed a fruitful period between the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals. His farewell from ODI cricket proved to be bittersweet – he ended the 2011 World Cup with the most wickets for Sri Lanka, but only walked away with a silver medal around his neck.
49 ODIs, 75 wickets @ 21.28, BBI: 4-16
Completing the pace attack is McGrath, whose last two years were as good as any in his career. Despite competition from younger quicks, McGrath managed a superior bowling average and strike rate after turning 35 than his overall career numbers. The farewell was dreamlike: he ended the 2007 World Cup on the winning side, as the leading wicket-taker and with the most scalps in World Cup history.
12th man: Sanath Jayasuriya
The all-round skills really tempted us to have him there. Jayasuriya turned 35 in 2004, eight years before he played his last ODI. In that period, he struck 12 centuries (the joint-most by anyone over 35), and scored the second-most runs, striking at 96.75. His left-arm spin accounted for 70 wickets at 37.11.