Meet 100-year-old Vasant Raiji: India's oldest living first-class cricketer

Vasant Raiji, who made his first-class debut in 1939, turned 100 years old on Sunday.

Vasant Raiji

A couple of weeks ago, cricketing legends Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh had visited Vasant Raiji to celebrate his birthday in advance.   -  PTI

In the nine first-class fixtures that he featured in, Vasant Raiji never scored a century, but he has in life. The oldest living Indian first-class cricketer, who was born on January 26, 1920, turned 100 years old on Sunday.

A resident of Walkeshwar in South Mumbai, Raiji, who was a batsman, played for Bombay and Baroda before joining his family business of chartered accountancy.

 

He 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.

After all, that's where he got a chance to share the dressing room with Lala Amarnath, Vijay Merchant, CK Nayudu and Vijay Hazare.

Vasant Raiji

Born: January 26, 1920

First-Class matches: 9

Teams: Bombay/Baroda

Runs: 277

Highest score: 68

Average: 23.08


Even though he switched to chartered accountancy later, his love for cricket never faded. He wrote books on cricketers -- Victor Trumper, CK Nayudu, LP Jai. And was also one of the founding members of the Jolly Cricket Club. Even though memory plays truant these days, Raiji still makes it a point to watch cricket on television.

Vasant Raiji

Raiji had written books on many cricketers, including one on former Australian cricketer Victor Trumper.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

A couple of weeks ago, cricketing legends Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh visited Raiji to spend some time with him. They talked about cricket and celebrated Raiji's birthday by cutting a cake. "It was a fun meeting. Raiji enjoyed the evening immensely with Sachin and Steve," someone who had accompanied Waugh and Tendulkar to Raiji's home said.

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