It may not be quite as dramatic or hyped as Sachin Tendulkar’s impending 100th 100. But it is still a matter of great pride as Neil ‘Mobil’ Gordon turned 100 years old, the oldest South African cricketer alive and still passionate about the game.
Gordon significantly is the only survivor of the timeless Test played in 1939 against England and as his birthday and his contribution will be celebrated in a special ceremony at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, it will be a great look back on Gordon’s career for South Africa before World War II. Although Gordon only played five Tests, his bowling of 92.2 overs or 738 balls happens to be the most number of balls bowled by a fast bowler in a Test match. On that occasion the Timeless Test ended in a draw after ten days, something the ICC will be thinking about when they contemplate the possibility of a Timeless Test to decide the World Test championship in 2013.
Born in 1911, Gordon played five Tests and continues to hold a keen interest in the sport in that he recently spoke out about his lack of appreciation for the fact that the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott have migrated to represent England even though they played their junior cricket in South Africa.
Incidentally Vaseline also gets a mention with Gordon because he apparently applied dollops of it to tame his hair during his playing days, earning him the nickname of ‘Mobil’. The Second World War though changed the dynamics and thereafter Gordon hung up his boots for good.
Gordon is in a club only his own as the oldest living Test cricketer after Eric Tindal of New Zealand passed away last August on the brink of the 100 year milestone. Gordon represents an era that few would have even heard of, and holds a memorable piece of cricket history that is golden as South Africa’s celebrations planned for him on the weekend when he will be joined by other illustrious names from South African cricket from recent generations.
Even as cricket of yesteryears is revered, so will Gordon be celebrated because he is the actual living representation of a period in cricket history that historians love to relive through words. As cricket celebrates 2000 Tests, it is fantastic and perhaps the ICC will take cognizance as well as they congratulate Gordon on his personal milestone, coinciding as it does with the timing when Test cricket is being given a rare standing ovation in the age of Twenty20.