While most present-day sports offer only limited years of service, it is cricket where a player can continue for long periods if he possesses the fitness and drive to succeed and win matches for the country at the highest level. Current form, workload management and faith of the selectors too plays a crucial role and the player has to tick all these boxes for remaining relevant and carving a remarkable cricketing career for himself. Despite the aspect being challenging, there are many players in world cricket, who have surpassed these hurdles and played for the nation over a period spanning 2 decades. We will be considering a few of them in the present article. In the below piece, we look at 4 players, who had the longest ODI careers:
1. Sachin Tendulkar – 22 years 91 days
Yet another record in international cricket where the Master Blaster writes his name right at the top! Tendulkar’s ODI record has been nothing short of amazement where the batsman has scored runs against every opposition and in every condition, making it the longest ODI career in world cricket.
Unlike other international batsmen, Tendulkar didn’t have any flaw in his batsmanship which the bowlers could exploit. He was equally adept against the spinners and pacers, on the front-foot and back-foot, making it one heck of a task to bowl against him.
While it was elegant along with the ground shots which frustrated bowlers the most, Tendulkar occasionally resorted to the aerial route as well for garnering handsome sixes down the ground and over covers. If not for this immaculate batting, Tendulkar worked his magic bowling leg-breaks and picking wickets at crucial junctures in a game.
The great Indian batsman has accumulated 18426 runs from 463 ODIs at an average of 44.83 and strike rate of 86.23, and also scalped 154 wickets at an average of 44.48.
2. Mithali Raj – 21 years 259* days
The greatest woman cricketer to have ever played the sport, Raj had the second-longest ODI career when compared to the best in the business. It is her passion and dedication for the game that now sees many young girls in the country take up the sport and dream of bringing laurels to the nation.
Right from her early days till even now, Raj has played the role of an anchor for the team, trying to bat out the entire quota of overs and propel the side to respectable totals. At times, she has also resorted to the aggressive approach for scoring quick runs and giving the side a psychological edge.
Her technically sound batsmanship came of great help during her captaincy stint, who in turn was able to read the game and match situations better and brought the best out of her teammates. Even current skipper Harmanpreet is walking on the same path laid by Raj and that itself is an assurance of the bright days to come ahead.
*259 days as on 12-03-2021
3. Sanath Jayasuriya – 21 years 184 days
A swashbuckling opening batsman from Sri Lanka, who batted in only one gear, Jayasuriya’s pyrotechnics at the top of the order did the majority of the job and took the pressure off the middle order. The southpaw had the third-longest ODI career, dominating the opposition bowlers for more than 2 decades.
Being a left-hander, Jayasuriya was fluent on the off-side, scoring plenty of runs through the point and cover regions. While anything bowled on his pads too wasn’t spared as the southpaw used to flick it over mid-wicket or square-leg regions, making him a difficult customer to bowl to.
The short stature had nothing to do with his powerful batting and clearing the biggest of boundaries with consummate ease. There was absolutely no hiding place for the bowlers when the batsman was on song and their only opportunity was to get him early or induce a false stroke from the batter.
Jayasuriya has smacked 13430 runs from 445 ODIs at an average of 32.36 and strike rate of 91.20, and also snapped up 323 wickets at an average of 36.75.
4. Javed Miandad – 20 years 272 days
A quality right-handed batsman from Pakistan, who had an appetite for big runs and thus maintained a high average, Miandad was the ‘Mr. Dependable’ for his country during his playing days. The batsman had the fourth-longest ODI career, marking it a huge achievement for himself and the country.
He was known for playing crucial innings in crunch moments and that had a lot to do with his supreme physical and mental strength. Miandad was more of a finding-the-gaps type of player, who ran quickly between the wickets and worked hard for every run that he scored.
If not the need of the hour, Miandad would never take the aerial route and risk his wicket, transferring the pressure onto his fellow batsmen. He used the reverse sweep quite effectively to throw the bowlers off their rhythm and persisted with his run-scoring spree.
Miandad has plundered 7381 runs from 233 ODIs at an average of 41.70 and strike rate of 67.01.