Vasant Raiji Dead, World’s Oldest First-Class Cricket Player Dies At 100
Vasant Raiji is dead. ESPN Cricinfo reported that the the world’s oldest first-class cricket player, passed away on Saturday, June 13. The former batsman died at the age of 100 due to old age, according to a relative. He passed away in his sleep in the early hours of Saturday morning at his home.
“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 the press.
Raiji Played First-Class Cricket During The 1940s
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
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 13, 2020
Raiji played nine first-class matches for Bombay and Baroda during the 1940s. He was the opening batsman for both teams for the Ranji Trophy. The right-hand batsman scored 277 runs over the span of his cricketing career, with a high score of 68 runs and a batting average of 23.08. The highlight of his career came when he played in the Ranji Trophy match for Baroda against Maharashtra. In this December 1944 game, Raiji scored two half-centuries for his team.
Although he played first-class cricket for Bombay and Baroda, his debut match was for a Cricket Club of India team in 1939. They faced off against Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur. However, Raiji’s debut was far from a success, as he was dismissed for a duck in the first innings of the match. In the second innings, he was at least able to score a single run.
It was only two years later than Raiji made his Mumbai debut in 1941 against Western India. He played under team captain Vijay Merchant at the time.
After Retiring From Cricket, Raiji Continued To Play An Active Role In The Game
Wishing you a very special 1⃣0⃣0⃣th birthday, Shri Vasant Raiji.
Steve & I had a wonderful time listening to some amazing cricket 🏏 stories about the past.
Thank you for passing on a treasure trove of memories about our beloved sport. pic.twitter.com/4zdoAcf8S3
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 26, 2020
After retiring from the game, Raiji continued his career as an accountant but took a keen interest in writing about the game he loved. The cricket historian authored three biographies about some of the greatest cricket players of all time. The biographies included works about C.K. Nayudu, India’s first captain in test matches, Sir Ranjitsinhji (Ranji) Vibhaji Jadeja, the maharaja who played cricket for England’s national side, and Victor Trumper, an Australian cricketer widely regarded as the most versatile and stylish batsman of the Golden Age of cricket.
His final book, entitled “Cricket Memories: Men and Matches of Bygone Days” was published in 2010, when Raiji was 90-years-old.
Raiji’s birthday was on January 26, 1920, and celebrated his birthday with three icons of modern-day cricket: Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Australia’s former skipper, Steve Waugh. They visited Raiji at his residence in Walkeshwar.
Tendulkar tweeted about the death of Raiji on Saturday morning to express his sadness about his death. He said that he remembered Raiji’s passion for the game and gave his condolences to his family. In the two hours since he posted his tribute, it has already received more than 11,000 likes.
Raiji is survived by his wife and two daughters. Alan Burgess, a New Zealand all-rounder who turned 100 on May 1, has succeeded Raiji as the world’s oldest living first-class cricket player.