Months after announcing his retirement from the format, Wanindu Hasaranga is set to play Test cricket. He will not be the first man to do so.

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.

George Headley

In 1953/54, England sent a full-strength squad to the West Indies for the first time. The selectors wanted Headley – the greatest West Indies batter until then – at least for the first Test match, at his home venue of Kingston.

Headley, 44, had played two first-class matches in five half years when he played in a tour match to prepare for the Test, and was promptly hit by Fred Trueman on the arm. At the big game, he made 16 and 1, and his batting average dropped from 63.91 to 60.83. At 44 years 236 days, he remains the West Indies’ oldest Test cricketer.

Hemu Adhikari

Four Test matches into the 1958/59 series into the series, India’s tally stood at three defeats and three captains. For the final game, they wanted a new candidate. They sent out an SOS call to Col Adhikari, who had led Services to consecutive Ranji finals, had not played Test cricket in over two years, and was posted in Dharamshala on Indian Army duty.

Adhikary was not keen, and the request had to be routed through his senior. He made 63 and 40, took the only three wickets of his Test career, led India to a draw, and returned to the frontier.

Colin Cowdrey

After Jeff Thomson knocked England out in the Brisbane Test of 1974/75, the selectors summoned 41-year-old Cowdrey to the side. Four years out of Test cricket, his best days were behind him, but he practised hard upon arrival in Australia, arrived at the crease at Perth amidst loud applause, and offered a bemused Thomson his hand (“good morning, my name’s Cowdrey”). He did not get a fifty on that tour, but reached 20 five times in nine outings.

Bobby Simpson

As Kerry Packer lured the cream of Australian cricket away, the board put together a depleted squad for the five-match Test series against the touring Indians. To lead them, they recalled 42-year-old Bobby Simpson, a decade into his retirement. He did well for his 738 runs at 38.84 and eight wickets from 10 Tests. Under him, Australia defeated India but lost in the West Indies.

Ian Chappell

As Simpson was leading Australia, Ian Chappell – retired from Test cricket – was in charge of the Australian XI in World Series Cricket (after Packer responded to “Greg Chappell is the captain of Australia” with “I pay the bills, I choose the captain”). Greg was back to lead Australia in the post-Packer era, but Ian played three times under him against England in 1979/80.

Imran Khan

Imran announced his retirement after the 1987 World Cup, but president Zia-ul-Haq convinced him to charge of the Pakistan team for the tour of the West Indies – at that point the strongest side in the world by some distance – the following year. Pakistan drew that Test series 1-1, and Imran continued as captain until he retired as the World Cup-winning captain in 1992.

Carl Hooper

At only 32, Hooper stunned the cricket fraternity by announcing his retirement from all formats in 1999. He returned as captain two years, and played some of his best cricket over the next couple of years, with 1,609 runs at 45.97 and 21 wickets from 22 Tests and becoming the first cricketer to do the 5,000 run-100 wicket-100 catch treble in both Tests and ODIs. After missing the 1996 and 1999 editions, he played in the 2003 World Cup – as captain.

Javagal Srinath

Srinath had decided to retire after the 2002 tour of the West Indies. He did not tour England that summer, but Indian captain Sourav Ganguly convinced him to stay on until the 2003 World Cup. He was outstanding with the ball at the World Cup, but not after he played three Tests against the West Indies at home. He got only four wickets, but the 137 runs he scored took his career tally to four figures.

Shahid Afridi

He had to be on this list, right? Afridi announced “temporary retirement” (don’t ask) from Test cricket in 2006. Four years later, he returned to lead Pakistan for four Test matches on their England tour of 2010 – two against Australia, two against England. He played one of these and that was it, for good.

Moeen Ali

A text message from captain Ben Stokes was all it took for Moeen to come out of Test retirement to join England’s 2023 Ashes campaign. Stepping in for the injured Jack Leach, Moeen had 180 runs and nine wickets (and reached both 3,000 runs and 200 wickets) as England came from two-down to level the series. He promptly retired again.

Wanindu Hasaranga

A sought-after all-rounder across franchise-based T20 leagues around the world, Hasaranga has had an underwhelming Test career. He retired from the format in August 2023, but – after missing a solitary Test match, against Afghanistan – was included for the two Tests in Bangladesh in 2024.

Near-misses: Javed Miandad, Jerome Taylor, Tamim Iqbal

All three retired from the format and announced their returns – Miandad in 1994, Taylor in 2017, Tamim in 2023. While they played other formats after their u-turns, they did not feature in Test matches. Of course, Hasaranga may not play either…

The one that did not happen: Syd Barnes

As Don Bradman amassed mountains of runs on the 1930 Ashes tour, the English selectors considered Syd Barnes for the decider, at The Oval. Barnes, 57, was 35 years older than Bradman, but it was not an emotional decision, for Barnes had been running through Test-strength sides. In 1928, he had taken 7-51 and 5-67 against the touring West Indians; in 1929, 8-41 and 1-19, then 6-28 and 4-62 against the South Africans – all in first-class matches.

Barnes did not eventually play that match. The men with the best batting and bowling averages in Test cricket – with reasonable cut-offs – never clashed in the format.