M.E. Trescothick, lbw b Stevens 5.
Marcus Trescothick Darren Stevens
When this dismissal happened, on Sunday 7th April at Taunton, the oldest player on the county circuit had to trudge back to the pavilion while the second oldest player on the county circuit received pats on the back from his team-mates. It would be something that would be very hard to check (although I dare say somebody will almost certainly try) if this was the first time in the history of the Championship that the two oldest players on the circuit had been involved in one dismissing the other, but it seems very unlikely that it has happened before. Another major landmark in the careers of Banger and Stevo.
Their combined ages that day, 86 years and 80 days, may well be beaten when Somerset come to the Spitfire Ground in June, when both men will have aged another 64 days, unless Trescothick has learnt to deal with Stevo’s dibbly-dobbly swingers by then, and Stevo takes care not to snick to slip. However, we know that Stevo’s dismissal of Trescothick is by no means the oldest dismissal in county cricket history, as both men are comparative youngsters compared with some of the players of a few years ago. Even in Kent, two players played championship cricket for Kent aged at least five years older than Stevens. Jack Hubble was 48 years and 124 days old when he played his final county game, against Leicestershire at Tunbridge Wells in 1929. He was dismissed by 39 year old Ewart Astill in the second innings, giving a combined age of around 88 years. Frank Woolley was even older – 51 years and 97 days old when he played against Notts at Dover in 1938, and just a quick shuffle through Wisden for that year shows that when Woolley was lbw to Arthur Wellard in both innings of Kent’s game at Taunton late in August, the combined ages of the two men was 86 years and 229 days. What’s more, Woolley dismissed the Somerset skipper, ‘Dar’ Lyon, stumped by Hopper Levett for 8 in Somerset’s second innings, giving a combined bowler and victim age of 91 years and 217 days. Hopper Levett was then a mere stripling of 29, so he must have felt somewhat out of place amongst all these old men. But it shows that Stevo and Trescothick did not even beat the record for oldest bowler and victim for Kent v Somerset at Taunton! It will take them three more years to do that. In Kent’s 1938 away fixture against Leicestershire, Stevo’s old county, Woolley took eleven wickets, including that of N.F.Armstrong, who was then coming up for 45. The combined age of all but 96 years in that dismissal may well be a record, but I’d have to go through Wilfred Rhodes’ and W.G. Grace’s later careers to be sure, not to mention Brian Close, Fred Titmus and Ray Illingworth.
Lord Harris Frank Woolley
Frank Woolley is the oldest person to play county cricket for Kent, but he is not the oldest to have played for the county in a first-class game. That record is held by – who else – Lord Harris, who was 60 years and 151 days old on the final day of Kent’s game against the Indian tourists at Catford in 1911. He was caught and bowled for 36 by the 26 year old Jehangir Warden, which makes a combined age of around 87 years, another one that beats Stevens and Trescothick.
In the 1850s both William Clarke, playing as a ‘given man’, and Alfred Mynn, the Lion of Kent, played for the county in their fifties, as did Fuller Pilch and Ted Wenman. Indeed all four men were over fifty when they played for Kent against England at Canterbury in 1854, but as England were victorious by 7 wickets, the Kent selectors probably decided that a youth policy was urgently needed, and only Alfred Mynn ever played for the county again.
One record that Darren Stevens has beaten this season is one of Colin Cowdrey’s, which has stood since 1975. When Kent played Hampshire in the Royal London One Day Cup on 17 April, Stevo, then a fortnight shy of his 43rdbirthday, became the oldest man to play white-ball cricket for the county. He leapfrogged from third place on the list at the end of last season, to the top where Cowdrey, then aged 42 years and 293 days, had reigned supreme for almost 44 years. The only other man to play white-ball cricket for Kent in his forties is Derek Underwood, who was 42 years and 83 days old when he played his last Sunday League game against Hampshire at Maidstone in 1987. Next on the list come David Sayer, Alan Knott and Bob Wilson, who were all over 39 the last time they played limited overs cricket for Kent. So Stevo has the chance to stretch his lead in this particular area, even if he is unlikely to knock either Frank Woolley or Lord Harris off their first-class perches.
How long should a cricketer keep playing? As long as he is fit, and as long as his county side wants him, I suppose. Trescothick and Stevens, like Ol’ Man River, just keep rolling along, and their counties, and their supporters, seem quite happy with this state of affairs. They may not be quite so quick between the wickets as once they were, but they still both give great value to their counties, so let us hope that they are still around next season and maybe even the year after that, to get to a combined age of 90 when they meet in the championship of 2021.