The world’s oldest first class cricketer,Vasant Raiji,passes away at 100
Born in 1920, Raiji played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs in his decade-long career. Soon, Raiji decided that he was not cut out for top level cricket, and left the game to make a living as a chartered accountant.
Raiji, who had celebrated his 100th birthday on January 26, had been the world’s oldest living first-class cricketer. Sachin Tendulkar, Steve Waugh and Sunil Gavaskar, amongst others, had visited him on his birthday.
“I met Shri Vasant Raiji earlier this year to celebrate his 100th birthday. His warmth and passion for playing and watching Cricket was endearing. His passing away saddens my heart. My condolences to his family & friends,” tweeted Tendulkar.
Born in 1920, Raiji played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs in his decade-long career. Soon, Raiji decided that he was not cut out for top level cricket, and left the game to make a living as a chartered accountant. But the game never left him—all his leisure hours were spent watching, reading, talking or writing about cricket. He became an eminent cricket historian, with a wealth of stories to tell, from watching Col CK Nayudu play at Bombay Gymkhana in 1926, to Lala Amarnath scoring the first century by an Indian batsman in a Test to watching Virat Kohli score hundreds at will. He also used to correspond regularly with the late Sir Don Bradman.
Raiji made his first-class debut in 1939 for a Cricket Club of India (CCI) team, which played against the Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur. Though it didn’t turn out to be a memorable outing for Raiji — he was dismissed for a duck in the first innings, followed by just one in the second innings — that match inspired Raiji to take up the game seriously. He played for Bombay (now Mumbai) and Baroda. Raiji had shared the dressing room with the likes of Lala Amarnath, Vijay Merchant, CK Nayadu and Vijay Hazare.
Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and former Australian skipper Steve Waugh had paid a courtesy visit to Raiji at his residence in January when he had turned 100.
It has been learnt that the cremation will take place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.