It is common knowledge that Barbados-born Dutch opener Nolan Clarke is the oldest man to appear in an ODI match, having taken the field at the age of 47 years and 257 days against New Zealand at Vadodara in the 1996 World Cup. He had made his debut against South Africa a little over a fortnight earlier, making him the oldest ODI debutant as well.
However, it is not Clarke who holds the record of being the oldest person to play ODI cricket. Beating him by 98 days is former wicketkeeper-captain of West Indies Women, the intriguingly named Stephanie Power. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Power was 47 years and 355 days old in her last ODI, against South Africa at Pretoria in 2004-05.
The match in which Power actually surpassed Clarke’s nine-year record was also played in Pretoria – a league match of the 2005 World Cup against New Zealand. She remained the West Indian captain till the end of her career, having first taken over the reins at the age of 46 in 2003 – making her the oldest ever international captain on captaincy debut in any format.
Power made her ODI debut back in 1993, in a World Cup game against Australia at Tunbridge Wells. She was the second-highest scorer with 23 in a measly West Indian total of 131/9, but she never really took off in the batting department as her career progressed. In her 22 innings from 34 ODIs, she totalled 183 runs at 8.31, with a best of 28.
Stephanie Power showed that age is just a number when she captained the West Indies for the first time at the age of 46 (source – windiescricket.com/randy brooks)
Her Test average was better, albeit she played only a solitary Test, against Pakistan at Karachi in 2003-04. This was the match in which Pakistani opener Kiran Baluch scored 242, creating a new record for the highest score in a Women’s Test. Power, who was not keeping wickets, scored 19 and 57, the latter playing a part in saving her side after they were made to follow on 279 in arrears.
On the same tour of Pakistan, Power enjoyed her first series success as captain, leading the West Indies to a 5-2 win in the seven-match ODI series. Never before had the West Indian eves won a bilateral ODI series. A second win came in a three-match affair in South Africa in 2004-05 – her final international outing – with the victory margin being 2-1.
Under her leadership, the Windies finished runners up, behind Ireland, at the World Cup qualifiers in 2003 and then beat Sri Lanka and Ireland at the 2005 World Cup, which was a significant improvement as they had failed to make the cut for the previous edition in 2000. These achievements make her one of the most successful female captains from the Caribbean.
Following her 12-year international playing career, Power, who is also a qualified physical education teacher, went on to become an acclaimed coach in the West Indies as well as the United States. She has been a key part of the West Indies Women team’s coaching staff and was the first female inductee in the USA Cricket Hall of Fame in 2015.
It would take something extraordinary in order to break Power’s records of being the oldest ODI cricketer and the oldest international captain on captaincy debut. Since her retirement, no cricketer, female or male, has played an international match after the age of 45.