It is believed Twenty20 cricket is no format for older men. Though considered to be unabashedly tilted toward 20-somethings, there are a few in their 40's, who are bent on proving this notion wrong.
There are few names in the IPL and in the forthcoming World Twenty20 in Bangladesh there will be atleast four players who have touched 40 or are above. Two come from Australia and are among the best T20 players in the world — Brad Hogg (43) and Brad Hodge (39years, 75days). While the other two are Pakistani-origin Hong Kong cricketers — Munir Dar (42) and Najeeb Amar (42).
The talent of Hogg and Hodge doesnt need much of an introduction. Hogg, a rare chinaman bowler, is a T20 specialist with the ability to contain as well as take wickets. Hodge, on the other hand, is a match-winner with the bat, with additional tags of big hitter and an entertainer, and has the talent to take the game away from any situation. Both have been vital cogs of Australia Twenty20 team and have been indispensable for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Champions League T20.
Apart from being veterans, Hong Kong's Dar and Amar also have comparatively lesser experience as they play for a team that has made it to the World T20 for the first time. Left-arm spinner Dar is a T20 specialist and is more of a wicket-taker with 25 wickets in 15 games. He was recently banned for a year by ICC for illegal bowling action and has been picked in the team for his explosive batting.
Amar, on the other hand, is making a comeback from retirement. He had led Hong Kong successfully in the ICC World Cricket League Divison II tournament before hanging his boots up. For his captain Jamie Atkinson, he is a "big match" player who could play an important role with his left-arm spin.
So what is that keeps these 40-year-olds going? "It is love for the game. That is simply what keeps them going on and on," says Pravin Tambe, who hogged the limelight last year by becoming the oldest player at 41 to make his IPL debut. "It is the passion and the hunger to play at the bigger level. Playing in the World T20 is a big thing," he added.
Tambe believes that players like Hodge and Hogg have broken the myth that T20 format game is meant only for youngsters. "I don't think it is only for youngsters. If you are fit and have the hunger then you can play on par with youngsters. One requires a lot of strength and stamina to be a good T20 player because you have no time to rest like in one-dayers or Tests. You have to be on the run," adds Tambe.
The leg-spinner had praise for Hodge and Hogg. "One wouldn't find these guys resting. They were doing something or the other. If not batting or bowling they would do their sprints. They would always mix up the youngsters and never had the airs of being senior players. I think mixing with youngsters also helps your mind stay young. Hodge and Hogg were great motivators who kept inspiring us," he added.
Apart from trying to win the WorldT20 for their team, these four would be trying to show that it is the runs and wickets that count and not the number of candles on their birthday cakes.