Never ask a woman her age, nor a man his salary. Ask an athlete either and you’re likely to receive a rude glare, if not a brazen lie.
Shahid Afridi was stuck in his teens for an inordinately long time, contrary to what radiographic evidence seemed to suggest.
Some of our own cricketers have been known to fudge records to prolong their selection to junior competitions. A star out-of-action Indian all-rounder is – say people in the know – at least two years older than his billed age.
Can’t really blame the offenders – if an army general can (allegedly) do it, why not a lowly civilian, stacked or not!
Some people though continue to outfox the turning of the clock without the need for falsified papers.
From what transpired at Wimbledon this past week, one is led to believe that 30 is the new 20, so far as tennis is concerned.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the men’s and women’s singles champions, are all above the jagged red line of 30 annual earthly
And from the looks of it, neither of them looks over the hill.
Federer, twin daughters in attendance, dashed a million British hopes as he reeled in a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday.
“I'm so happy I'm at the age I am right now, because I had such a great run and I know there's still more possible. Enjoying it right now is very different than when I was 20 or 25,” he said after Andy Murray’s post-match waterworks.
The man who came to cheer for Federer is no spring chicken either.
At 39, Sachin Tendulkar is going strong, give or take a skipped tour - or two. Left to his fans, Sachin will be around to bring in another World Cup and perhaps kiss a perfect goodbye to the game in his son’s debut Test match.
If only Yash Chopra or one of his pathetic younger clones was sitting up there, gazing down from an imaginary helicopter, clapperboard in hand!
Cricketers, by virtue of the comparatively staid nature of their chosen activity, have traditionally had longer stints in the middle.
But Sachin is a year older to what Sunil Gavaskar was when he hung up his pads, in a game where the bottom half of the third decade is generally not as cruel as it is in other, more physically challenging sports.
Singles tennis is perhaps harshest on the body. Federer aside, the last Grand Slam winner over 30 was the egg-headed Andre Agassi at the 2003 Australian Open.
What makes Federer (now back at No.1 in tennis’ pecking order), Serena and Sachin special is their longevity, their abiding relevance on a circuit where younger, fitter bodies are entangled in a continuous process of natural selection.
The WTA Tour looks like a coop of nattering teenagers. Maria Sharapova, a seen-it-all veteran with over $21 million in prize money alone, is all of 25 years old, having already lived several lives in the span of a third of one.
Sharapova is a veritable senior pro, surrounded by a gaggle or pubescent girls who are likely to have been superglued to a tennis racquet in the crib; in an environment when children mature rapidly physically and mentally, sport too has done a done a Benjamin Button.
Which is why when one of the geriatrics – relatively speaking – goes all the way in a major, it reminds us that there’s still some kick left in gnarled legs. And that sometimes the mellow intoxication of old wine can far surpass the crude punch of a new varietal.