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Imran Tahir

Tahir on the cusp of history

#SAvBAN News

If Imran Tahir remains atop the MRF Tyres ODI Bowling Rankings on 3 December, he will become the oldest player to achieve this feat.

The South African spinner made his long-awaited debut for South Africa in a One Day International against the West Indies in Delhi at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and quickly made up for lost time, taking 4/41 in his 10 overs and totalling 11 wickets in his first three matches. Debutant he may have been, but Tahir was far from a rookie, being just a month short of turning 32.

Despite those initial successes he was out of the South African ODI team for more than two years before returning against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in late 2013, carrying on from where he left off and becoming an ever-present fixture in the team.

He took just 58 matches to reach 100 ODI wickets, setting a national record and still the fifth-fastest of all time. He also reached top spot in the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings for the first time on 18 March 2015 following his haul of 4-26 against Sri Lanka in Sydney at ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, edging ahead of Saeed Ajmal.

He ultimately lost that position to Mitchell Starc later in the tournament but became a permanent fixture in the world’s top 10 bowlers and spent most of the first half of 2017 back on top. Having been overtaken by Josh Hazlewood on 11 June that year, he moved back to number one by the end of September after a successful ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales.

With an economical 10-over spell in the victory over Bangladesh on 15 October at Kimberley, Tahir retained top spot at the age of 38 years 202 days, making him the second-oldest bowler to ever top the ODI bowling charts. To find the only man ahead of him, we need to go back nearly three decades.

Richard Hadlee ended his glorious career in 1990 with a knighthood and the record number of Test wickets, but it was earlier that year that he reached the ODI number one spot for the final time. On 10 March he bowled 10 economical overs against Australia in Auckland to maintain his Rating of 776 from the previous match which enabled him to enjoy the final match of his 148 spent on top of the bowling tree. However, nine wicket-less overs in a heavy defeat to the Aussies the following day saw him slip below Wasim Akram and his reign at the top was over for good at 38 years and 250 days old.

No bowler has since bettered that feat.

At the age of 38 years and 250 days, Richard Hadlee has been the oldest player to be ranked No.1 in ICC ODI Rankings.
At the age of 38 years and 250 days, Richard Hadlee has been the oldest player to be ranked No.1 in ICC ODI Rankings.

So mark your calendars for 3 December this year. If Imran Tahir is still ranked top on that date, he will have surpassed Hadlee’s record to become the oldest bowler to ever top the ICC ODI Bowling Rankings.

Here are the 10 oldest players to hold the number one ODI bowler ranking:

Richard Hadlee

38y 250d

Imran Tahir                     

38y 204d

Saeed Ajmal

37y 152d

Glenn McGrath

35y 342d

Curtly Ambrose

35y 47d

Shaun Pollock

34y 202d

Joel Garner

34y 102d

Dennis Lillee

33y 223d

Daniel Vettori

32y 297d

Shane Bond

32 250d


Of course, Tahir is still way behind Bert Ironmonger, who topped the Test bowling table back in 1933 when he was two months short of his 51 birthday - a feat that is never likely to be bettered!

Video cwc19 06 Jun 17
PAK v SA - Imran Tahir Feature

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