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Wisden’s unlucky to miss out on ‘Wisden’s all-time over-35 Test XI’ XI

Sarah Waris by Sarah Waris
@swaris16 3 minute read

Playing cricket after 35 is not an easy task, particularly in the longest format, where your skills are tested over five days. Yet, some legends continued to do so with ease.

Test cricket is a game of endurance and patience that requires great fitness levels. Representing the country in the format well into the late thirties is difficult, but a number of cricketers defied the challenges and continued dominating even after they turned 35.

We had picked out an all-time World Test XI with cricketers of 35 and above, but there were a few unlucky misses as well.


Here is an XI of players who were unfortunate to not make the first-choice over-35 men’s Test XI.

John Wright – New Zealand

19 Tests, 1,699 runs @ 53.09, 100s: 5

Wright averaged 37.82 in his Test career but was at his best towards the end when his averaged soared over 53. Five of his 12 Test hundreds came in this period, including his high score of 185, which he scored against India in 1990. He also has knocks of 99 and 98 after turning 35, and became the first from New Zealand to score 5,000 Test runs.

Len Hutton – England

26 Tests, 2,105 runs @ 53.97, 100s” 6

Over an 18-year-long career, Hutton broke a number of records, defying age and its obstacles. In 1938, he had become the second-youngest player to score a Test triple ton, at only 22 years 58 days. He emerged out of the Second World War with a surgery that left one arm shorter than the other. That did not stop the runs. In 1953, he broke a long-standing social barrier in English cricket when he became the first Professional to lead the nation.

Don Bradman – Australia

15 Tests, 1,903 runs @ 105.72, 100s: 8

Bradman’s batting average is impossible to overlook. He batted 23 times after turning 35, of which 13 knocks ended in either a hundred or fifty, despite him fighting fibrositis towards the end of his career.

Kumar Sangakkara – Sri Lanka

23 Tests, 2,528 runs @ 60.19, 100s: 8

Sangakkara has made over 1,200 runs more than any other Sri Lankan after turning 35, that too at an incredible average. He plays only as a specialist batter, though, having given up the keeping gloves in the format in 2008.

Jacques Kallis – South Africa

26 Tests, 2,163 runs @ 56.92, 100s: 10
26 wickets @ 43.53

While Kallis did not taste much success with the ball after 35 – understandably so – his batting continued peaking. He made 10 hundreds, including two double tons, and notched up runs across conditions. The first nine knocks after turning 35 were 73, 135*, 105, 10, 201*, 10, 17, 161 and 109*. His last Test knock was a score of 115 to end as one of the biggest stalwarts.

Steve Waugh – Australia

40 Tests, 2,554 runs @ 53.20, 100s: 10

Waugh was not only a batter par excellence but also a successful captain. He led Australia in 40 Test matches after turning 35. His batting was not affected by either the additional responsibility or age: he averaged over 53 in his last four years, slightly more than his career average.

Ridley Jacobs – West Indies

20 Tests, 847 runs @ 32.57

Only two wicketkeepers have played more than 20 Tests after 35 and averaged more than 30 with the bat – Alec Stewart and Ridley Jacobs. Stewart made the first-choice XI, but Jacobs – who had a hundred and six fifties during this phase – had to keep out Adam Gilchrist, who averaged 37.16 after turning 35. However, Gilchrist played only 11 games.

Richard Hadlee – New Zealand

23 Tests, 820 runs @ 32.80
116 wickets @ 21.39, 5-fors: 11

Hadlee is the only all-rounder to score at an average of over 30 and pick up more than 100 wickets after turning 35. To do so as a fast bowler is tougher, and he deserves due credit. One of the best all-rounders in history, Hadlee’s agelessness can be demonstrated by his 11 five-wicket hauls from 36 innings in the last four years of his career, including five six-wicket hauls. Only three other bowlers have more five-fors. He also had a batting best of 151*.

Anil Kumble – India

154 wickets @ 33.47, 5-fors: 6

Kumble’s average deteriorated in the last few years of his career, but he remained the spearhead of the Indian attack, and led India in his last few months as well. His highlight, however, came with the bat: he smashed an unbeaten 110 against England in 2007 during a memorable series win.

Courtney Walsh – West Indies

39 Tests, 180 wickets @ 21.60, 5-fors: 9

Walsh’s career spanned 17 years, an applaudable feat for a fast bowler. His career average of 24.44 dipped to 21.61 after he turned 35. He played 39 games after 35, picking up at least four wickets in an innings on 21 occasions. He bowed out on a high, picking up a match-haul of six wickets against South Africa in 2001. He outlasted his illustrious compatriots, and became the first bowler to take 500 Test wickets.

Muttiah Muralitharan – Sri Lanka

23 Tests, 126 wickets @ 28.02, 5-fors: 10

Muralitharan picked up his 800th wicket in his final Test match, making the end of a career that saw getting established as one of the all-time greats.


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