Vasant Raiji, who was India’s oldest first-class cricketer at 100, died here in the wee hours of Saturday. Raiji was 100 years old and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
“He (Raiji) passed away at 2.20 am in his sleep at his residence in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai due to old-age,” his son-in-law Sudarshan Nanavati told PTI.
Raiji, a right-handed batsman, played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs with 68 being his highest score. He made his debut for a Cricket Club of India team that played Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur in 1939.
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. pic.twitter.com/fi8dOP7EnI
His Mumbai debut happened in 1941 when the team played Western India under the leadership of Vijay Merchant. Raiji, also a cricket historian and chartered accountant, was 13 when India played its first Test match at the Bombay Gymkhana in South Mumbai.
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.
BCCI mourns the sad demise of Vasant Raiji. The former first-class cricketer and historian, who turned 100 this year in January, passed away in his sleep.https://t.co/0ywSprK93o pic.twitter.com/Z44gmP76X7
— BCCI (@BCCI) June 13, 2020
It has been learnt that the cremation will take place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai on Saturday afternoon.
“Raiji watched eight decades of Indian cricket and interacted with a plethora of cricketers. Few people would know about cricket as much as he does. But what makes Raiji so special is that he has never indulged in any kind of comparison between two players, ” cricket writer Makarand Waingankar wrote his in book Bombay Boys.
Raiji wrote 8 priceless books which make rare literature of cricketing history. He writes in the preface of his book, Story of the Bombay Tournament- From Presidency to Pentangular- 1892-93 to 1945-46, “No future historian of Indian cricket can ignore the important role played by the Presidency, Triangular, Quadrangular and Pentangular matches in the development of cricket in the country.”
Makarand also wrote, ‘Raiji and Don Bradman would correspond with each other on contentious cricket issues. A private person like Bradman would be comfortable speaking his mind to Raiji. CK Nayudu was Raiji’s favourite cricketer and he in fact wrote a book called CK Nayudu, the Shahenshah of Indian Cricket.’
With PTI inputs
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