The pandemic may celebrate the birthday, but the occasion has not taken its toll on the cricket fraternity of Maharashtra – former Maharashtra and Mumbai first-class cricketer Raghunath Chandorkar, the oldest surviving Ranji player, will turn 100 on November 21.
Chandorkar will also become only the third Ranji Trophy player to celebrate his 100th birthday. Vasant Raiji, who passed away in Mumbai this May, was one of the three.
A middle-order batsman and leg-spin bowler, Chandorkar played five Ranji Trophy matches for Maharashtra from 1943–44 to 1946–47. In the 1950–51 season, he left for Mumbai. Chandorkar now lives a quiet life in Dombivali, a Mumbai suburb.
For the past six years, Chandorkar has lost his memory for Alzheimer’s, although watching cricket on TV is one of the few things that call his interest daughter-in-law Vinita.
“We don’t know what’s going through his mind but he watches cricket on TV,” she said.
As a safety precaution against Kovid-19, Chandorkar was shifted to an old age facility in September.
“He will be India’s third Ranji Trophy cricketer to complete 100 years after Dinkar Balwant Deodhar (14 January 1892 – 24 August 1993) and Vasant Nayasarai Raiji (26 January 1920 – 13 January 2020). This makes him the oldest living first-class cricketer in India, ”said cricket statistician and historian Sudhir Vaidya.
It was under the guidance of Deodhar, Chandorkar used to play for SP College in Pune and PYC Gymkhana.
“I have a complete record of every Ranji cricketer since 1934,” said 82-year-old Vaidya, who was on the BCCI panel from 1974 to 2009. I informed some officials of Maharashtra Cricket Association about this. “
In ESPNcricinfo, Chandorkar’s record is listed with the highest score of 37 in seven first-class matches from 1943–44 to 1950–51.
“He was coaching well into his 70s,” said Muralidhar Marathe, honorary secretary of Dombivli Cricket Club. “In Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali and Ambarnath belt, Chandorkar was famous.”
Marathe recalled that even at the age of 80, Chandorkar would ride a bicycle to the cricket ground, four kilometers from his home.
“He was regular with his fitness and maintained control of his diet,” he said.
According to his family, Chandorkar owned a glass works business in Mazgaon until 1958 and when it closed, he joined the glass works factory.
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