Hitting a century on the pitch is a job done and dusted for many cricketers, but scoring a hundred in your life? That was an achievement that Vasant Raiji, the oldest cricketer of India had pulled off in this January. Unfortunately, the former first class cricketer breathed his last on Saturday.
Former batsman of Mumbai (then Bombay) and Baroda cricket team and a cricket historian, Raiji celebrated his 100th birthday on 26th January this year. Survived by his 94-year-old wife Panna, and two daughters and sons in law, he passed away in the early hours of today, having aged 100 years and 139 days.
Raiji made his Ranji trophy debut for Bombay in 1941, and later joined Baroda in 1944, where he played till 1950. A right handed batsman, Raiji played 9 first class matches, scoring 277 runs, which include two half centuries.
“He (Raiji) passed away at 2.20 am in his sleep at his residence in Walkeshwar in South Mumbai due to old-age. The doctors saw him and his reports were all normal. But it was just age-related,” Sudarshan Nanavati, Raiji’s son in law said in an interview with PTI, who also informed that in his final days, Raiji used to feel ‘tired’ and ‘lost the will to live.’
The son in law further continued:“Normally, he would go to sleep at around 9 pm daily. For the last few days, he was not having dinner; he had stopped eating. He was only on liquid. It was just the age factor. There was nothing wrong with him; he was just ‘tired’,” Nanavati, who arrived at Mumbai from Ahmedabad with Raiji’s daughter Brinda, added.
Renuka, Raiji’s other daughter who resides in Perth, Australia, had revealed back on her father’s 100th birthday that he had hearing troubles, and was 50-50 deaf.
From Sachin Tendulkar to BCCI, the cricket fraternity of the country paid their respects to Raiji 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. His passing away saddens my heart. My condolences to his family & friends,” Sachin tweeted along with a photo of the two.
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
BCCI’s official Twitter handle lamented the saddening news.
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