India's oldest First-class cricketer Vasant Raiji dies at 100
India's oldest First-class cricketer, Vasant Raiji, died in the early hours of Saturday. Raiji, who turned 100 in January this year, was survived by his wife and two daughters. Raiji's son-in-law Sudarshan Nanavati informed the former passed away in his sleep at his residence, Walkeshwar (South Mumbai). Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar and BCCI paid tribute to him on Twitter. Here is more.
"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," Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.
I met Shri Vasant Raiji earlier this year to celebrate his 100th birthday. His warmth and passion for playing and watching Cricket was endearing.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 13, 2020
His passing away saddens my heart. My condolences to his family friends. pic.twitter.com/fi8dOP7EnI
In a career spanning 11 years (1939-1950), Raiji played nine First-class matches. He amassed 277 runs at an average of 23.08 with two half-centuries, both in the same Ranji Trophy game for Baroda against Maharashtra in December 1944. Following his playing career, Raiji switched to chartered accountancy. Besides, he wrote several sports-centric books including biographies of Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji, CK Nayudu and Victor Trumper.
Interestingly, Raiji made his debut in competitive cricket for a Cricket Club of India (CCI) team that played against Central Provinces and Berar, in Nagpur (1939). As per the record books, he finished with 0,1* in the match. During the match, he got the opportunity to play against Indian stalwarts, including CK Nayudu, Vijay Hazare and Lala Amarnath.
Vasant Raiji was mere 13 when India played their first ever Test match at the Bombay Gymkhana in South Mumbai. Team India hosted England for a three-Test series in 1933-34. Notably, the visitors comfortably won the first Test in Mumbai by nine wickets.
In January, veterans Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh visited Raiji's residence as the former cricketer turned 100. Raiji was born on January 26 in 1920. "Wishing you a very special 100th birthday, Shri Vasant Raiji. Steve & I had a wonderful time listening to some amazing cricket stories about the past," Tendulkar's Twitter caption read.
Wishing you a very special 1⃣0⃣0⃣th birthday, Shri Vasant Raiji.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 26, 2020
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