It is never too old to play sport goes the adage, and 42-year-old Pravin Tambe’s surprise selection to the Rajasthan Royals squad recently and his debut on Tuesday only adds substance to it. Tambe became the oldest player ever to make his debut in the league. And he emerged against the Daredevils with decent figures of 4-0-30-0.
His economy was far better on the day than that of teammate James Faulkner, one of the most economical bowlers in this edition.
Teammate Shane Watson wasn’t surprised, and said with a smile, “It is nice to ha­ve records like these. We have guys like Brad Hogg, who is 45 or 46 but behaves like a 20-year-old.” Hogg, the former Australia spinner, is 42.
Tambe’s selection to RR is shrouded in mystery and has left many local players annoyed. He was drafted in the Mumbai squad for this year’s Vijay Hazare one-dayers but didn’t get to play. Ev­en for Mumbai, his selection was a surprise. His claim to fame before that was captaining the DY Patil ‘B’ team. Ho­w­ever, the Mumbai selection helped him get a contract with RR.
The Royals CEO, Raghu Iyer, had then explained, “He has been on the circuit for a long time and deserved a chance. He has been on our radar for the past couple of years as we were looking for a leg-spinner.”
The T20 league hasn’t been short of such flattering observations. Remember Shane Warne calling Yusuf Pathan’s 37-ball 100 in 2010 the best he’s ever seen in his long, illustrious career. This one looked as outrageous as that.
Maybe, Iyer’s comment also pointed at a lack of depth in quality leg-spinners, if one goes by Tambe’s performance on Tuesday. “Leg-spin is tough, especially if you are making a debut. If you don’t put the ball in the right areas initially, you can lose it,” ad­ded Watson, praising Tambe’s composure. Dare­devils’ Ben Rohrer, who faced most of his deliveries, too was impressed. It took his two overs to finally get a grip on Tambe.