India’s oldest first-class cricketer, Vasant Raiji, passed away in the early hours of Saturday. Raiji was 100 years old.
“He (Raiji) passed away at 2.20 am in his sleep at his residence in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai due to old age,” Raiji’s son-in-law Sudarshan Nanavati told PTI.
Raiji was a right-handed batsman. He made his debut for a Cricket Club of India team that played Central Provinces and Berar in Nagpur in 1939. However, Raijii’s Mumbai debut took place in 1941 when the team played Western India under the leadership of Vijay Merchant.
He opened the batting for Bombay and Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and was a reserve for the Hindus team in the 1941 Bombay Pentangular. He had played nine first-class matches in the 1940s, scoring 277 runs with 68 being his highest score.
On January 26 this year, Raiji celebrated his 100th birthday which was attended by Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh.
As soon as the sad news hit the social media platforms, cricketers, along with sports journalists, started paying their tributes. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said they mourns the sad demise of Raiji.
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
After, BCCI, Tendulkar posted his reaction on Twitter and said Raiji’s passion for playing and watching Cricket was endearing.
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
Former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh also reacted and said he is praying for the family’s strength in this hour of grief.
My condolences on the passing away of Shri. Vasant Raiji, India’s oldest first-class cricketer. Praying for the family’s strength in this hour of grief 🙏🏻
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) June 13, 2020
Famous cricket journalist Boria Majumdar said Raiji helped him a lot during his early days.
“He had been a huge help when I started out research in the late 90s on the sport that has helped me make a career. #VasantRaiji RIP your memories of watching the first Test at Bombay GYM – stories I will always remember with fondness,” tweeted Boria.
He had been a huge help when I started out research in the late 90s on the sport that has helped me make a career. #VasantRaiji RIP your memories of watching the first Test at Bombay GYM – stories I will always remember with fondness.
— Boria Majumdar (@BoriaMajumdar) June 13, 2020