Test cricket's first 21st century man arrives | cricketnetwork.com

Test cricket's first 21st century man arrives

15 June 2018

Feel old yet? Born in March 2001, the oldest format's youngest cricketer is the first born this century

There were no shortage of firsts as Afghanistan took to the field for their historic maiden Test, with teenager Mujeeb ur Rahman's debut perhaps the biggest sign a new era has begun.

The 17-year-old spin sensation became the first player born in the 21st century to play Test cricket.

Born on March 28 2001, Mujeeb is no token inclusion; he was bought for a cool $A785,000 in this year's Indian Premier League by Kings XI Punjab, picking up 14 wickets at 21 with an economy rate of less than seven.

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Like the rest of Afghanistan's bowlers, Mujeeb (1-69 from 14 overs) found the going tough on the opening day of their inaugural Test against India in Bengaluru on Thursday.

The hosts racked up 6-347 with Shikhar Dhawan (107) spanking a century before lunch while fellow opener Murali Vijay (105) and KL Rahul (54) piled on the pain.

But Mujeeb did get a maiden Test scalp, and a handy one at that, with Chetershwar Pujara caught at leg-slip.

The mystery spinner's future appears bright and, along with fellow teenage tweaker Rashid Khan, looks set to play a major role in shaping the fortunes of Test cricket's 12th team in the coming years.

A right-armer who bowls a carrom ball, a wrong'un as well as a conventional off-break, Mujeeb taught himself to bowl watching YouTube footage of the likes of Ravi Ashwin, who he played alongside during the IPL at Kings XI Punjab and is now playing against in Afghanistan's first Test. 

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Mujeeb led his country's under-19 side to their best-ever tournament placing in this year's World Cup, narrowly missing a place in the decider after losing to Australia in the semi-final in January.

The following month, Mujeeb, also known as Mujeeb Zadran, broke legendary former Pakistan paceman Waqar Younis' record as the youngest bowler to take an ODI five-wicket haul when he picked up 5-50 against Zimbabwe.

His ODI record is elite – 15 games, 35 wickets at 16.62 with an economy rate of 4.04 – though none of his games have come against a top-eight ranked Test nation.

That will change when Afghanistan open their World Cup campaign against Australia in Bristol in June next year.

While Mujeeb was also the first male born in the 21st century to play an ODI, Ireland allrounder Gaby Lewis, born the day before Mujeeb, holds the distinction of being the first international cricketer born this millennium – which started on January 1 2001, not January 1 2000, to be precise – having made her debut for Ireland's women's team in 2014.

Tasmania off-spinner Jarrod Freeman became the first post-2000 baby to play in Australia's Sheffield Shield last summer, while a number of 21st century-born female cricketers, including Annabel Sutherland, have turned out in the Women's National Cricket League and the Women's BBL.

About the Writer

 @LouisDBCameron
@LouisDBCameron

Louis Cameron is a Melbourne-based journalist. A former Victorian Bushrangers fast bowler, Louis joined the cricket.com.au team with assistance from the Australian Cricketers' Association's Internship Program in 2016.