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India’s oldest living first-class cricketer Vasant Raiji celebrates his 100th birthday

Raiji shared the dressing room with the likes of Lala Amarnath, Vijay Merchant, CK Nayadu and Vijay Hazare.

Vasant Raiji
Vasant Raiji. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Known cricket historian and former Indian first-class cricketer, Vasant Raiji had something else to celebrate on India’s 71st Republic Day, as he celebrated his 100th birthday today. He was born on January 26, 1920, in Baroda, Gujarat and played 9 first-class matches for Bombay and Baroda from 1941-1950.

In the nine matches, Raiji made 277 runs with two half-centuries to his name and making the highest score of 68 and 53 in the same game against Maharashtra in a match in 1944-45. He was also a reserve for the Hindus in the 1941 Bombay Pentangular tournament. After completing his cricket career, he turned to his family business of chartered accountancy and also authored two books on the subject.

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Vasant Raiji, second Indian FC cricketer to celebrate 100 years of life

After the death of BK Garudachar in 2016, Raiji became the oldest FC cricketer. He is also only the second Indian in the list of Longest-lived First-Class cricketers. The only other Indian on the list is the great Prof DB Deodhar, who was born in January of 1892 and passed away in August 1993 at the age of 101 years. India’s domestic one-day tournament, the Deodhar Trophy is named after DB Deodhar himself.

Raiji received visits from Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who brought a cake to celebrate his 100th birthday. “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. Thank you for passing on a treasure trove of memories about our beloved sport,” tweeted Tendulkar.

Raiji shared the dressing room with the likes of Lala Amarnath, Vijay Merchant, CK Nayadu and Vijay Hazare. The subjects of his book ranged from CK Nayudu, Victor Trumper, Duleepsinhji and his own hero LP Jai, and India’s maiden Test at home, against Douglas Jardine’s England in 1933 at the Bombay Gymkhana. He still remembers watching that match as a 13-year-old, after his father shelled out 100 rupees, a princely sum in those days.

He also had an opinion on the raging debate of today, the four-day Tests proposal by the ICC. “A four-day Test series won’t work at all. There will be too many drawn matches,” he told Mid-Day.

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