Today saw 39 year old Adam Gilchris make a fabulous 100 for the Kings XI Punjab from just 53 balls. That's a pretty special effort by anyone, but a lot of attention has been put on his age, as he is now one of the elder statesmen of the IPL.
Since retiring from international cricket, when he realised his body wasn't up to long days in the field any more, Gilchrist has freelanced as a T20 player, plying his trade for Deccan, Middlesex, and now Punjab. This week we've also seen one of Gilchrist's former international team-mates Shane Warne step away from the IPL at the age of 41, despite not appearing to have lost any of the guile that made him the best spinner in the history of the game.
A lot has been made about Gilchrist's innings, mainly because of his age. "You never lose it" has been the gist of the consensus from those in the know. There has been some thought that Gilchrist, like Warne, will retire from cricket following this year's IPL, but I honestly don't see why he would need to.
Retiring from test matches and longer one day games is an obvious decision for players. It can be a long day in the field, with a lot of overs needed to be bowled for the bowlers, and a lot of time stood around for those who don't. Aching bodies and creaking joints mean that there is a much more clearly defined shelf-life for players in those formats - around 34/5 for bowlers, and 37/8 for batsmen. But for T20, the age limit need not be the case. It's only an hour and fifteen before the aging fielders can put their feet up, and only 24 deliveries (max) for the veteran bowlers. In this era of massages and ice baths, even the oldest players can be nursed into relative health before the next match, meaning the best players can stretch their careers to way beyond the end of their test or ODI ones finish.
It's fairly well agreed that Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne are among the greatest cricketers to ever play the game, and that cricketing genius does not fade. Gilchrist's heroics today underline that. So if players like Gilchrist, Warne or Muralitheran were able to keep themselves fit and healthy through the T20 "off-season", why shouldn't they be thought of for international T20 matches? We've seen a move towards 'specialist' T20 players such as Shaun Tait or Michael Lumb being introduced for the one-off games, so why not the legends? Their bodies can handle it, and they evidently still have the skill. In fact, they would be far more valuable than their younger counterparts, as they would have vast amounts of experience to help the team out in pressure situations.
It's only a thought, and while it may not ever happen, Australian fans, answer me this. At next year's World T20, who would you rather see bowl? Xavier Doherty or Shane Warne