In international cricket, a player rarely gets a chance to make his debut if he has crossed the age of 30. There is almost an unwritten rule among selectors the world over that a player who has crossed 30 should not be selected as the team needs to build for the future. But, Australia's selectors refuse to follow their formula. The case of Adam Voges is the latest example. Although he is 35, the Aussie selectors had no hesitation in handing him a Test debut, as that felt he deserved a spot owing to some brilliant domestic performances. And, what did Voges do? Responded by becoming the oldest centurion on debut.
Voges is no stranger to international cricket. He made his one-day debut back in 2007, but since has been constantly in and out of the team. His only claim to fame before the Dominica Test was a miraculous catch he took on the boundary, which remains a hit on YouTube. But, Voges repaid the faith the selectors showed in him, with a knock that will count among the best by an Aussie on debut. Even though the opponents were West Indies, the situation on day two at Dominica was an extremely tricky one. Devendra Bishoo was on top of his game, plus the surface was tough to bat on.
Voges' instant success is not a isolated case, and won't be the last one as well. His performance in his very first Test is a tribute to Australia's strong domestic structure, which keeps producing talents like him with unbelievable regularity. Before him, Australia had also recalled Chris Rogers although he was on the wrong side of the 30s. Rogers had made his Test debut against India a few years earlier before disappearing into oblivion. But, a string of good domestic performances brought him back in the reckoning. He hasn't disappointed since comeback and, in fact, has forged a great opening combination with David Warner. He will now be hoping to finish on a high.
The greatest example of Australia's success when it comes to rewarding older players has been in the case of Michael Hussey. The batsman who went on to achieve the nickname Mr Cricket for his consistent international performances was a phenomenon in the few years that he represented Australia. Hussey made his debut at the age of 30, becoming the batsman who had scored most first-class runs before making his international foray. For more than a couple of years, he was the best batsman in international cricket, particularly Tests. And, few were fitter than him at his age.
While Australia have made it a habit of not ignoring veterans, and have tasted the fruits of the same, the other countries seem to be following suit now. Although 34, Luke Ronchi was handed a Test debut when BJ Watling could not keep wickets due to injury. And Ronchi was a immediate success, playing a rollicking knock against James Anderson and co in his very first innings. India too have handed a recall to Harbhajan Singh, who is in his mid-30s. It remains to be seen how he performs. But, thanks to Australia, 30 plus is no longer too old in international cricket.
--By A Cricket Analyst