By Bipin Dani
Records are meant to be broken but former Pakistani batsman Hasan Raza's record of being the youngest Test player may never be broken.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Friday that it would introduce a minimum age for international cricket.
Players will now have to be at least 15 years old if they are to feature any form of international cricket – men’s, women’s or under 19.
Raza was 14 years and 227 days old when he was picked to play for Pakistan against Zimbabwe at Faisalabad on 24th October 1996, making this an almost impossible record to break.
"The ICC has done the right thing. I am not saying this because my record is in tact but I believe players only become mentally strong and matured after fifteen years of age. It is good from a safety point of view also that the players play when they are matured," Raza said on Sunday morning.
"When I was playing for Pakistan, Windies' fast bowler Courtney Walsh with 400 Test wickets was also playing. He was really fast and it was very difficult for a young bowler to face him,” he recalls.
“I was invited to make my debut early because my performance in school drew the attention of the selectors. Wasim Akram was my first Test captain and the Test cap was awarded to me by Mushtaq Mohammad, whose record (15 years and 124 days) I broke 38 years later."
Raza, 38 now, is running a cricket academy in Islamabad.
"My aim is to make young cricketers for our country and I am fully devoted to it," he added.
Raza is also aware that a few Pakistani players have faced controversy about their real age.
"This is because there was no age proof and certificates those days. Now we all have National Identity Cards.”
Among other cricketers who have played international cricket at a younger age, according to India's renowned cricket statistician Mohandas Menon are Nia Greig of Jersey Women who was just 11 years and 40 days when she made her T20I debut vs France Women at Nantes on 31 Jul 2019 and Marian Gherasim of Romania’s men’s team who was 14 years and 16 days when he made his T20I debut vs Bulgaria at Ilfov County on 16 Oct 2020.