The pandemic may preclude birthday celebrations, but the importance of the occasion is not lost on Maharashtra’s cricket fraternity–former Maharashtra and Mumbai first-class cricketer Raghunath Chandorkar, the oldest living Ranji player, will be 100 years old on November 21.
Chandorkar will also become only the third Ranji Trophy player to celebrate a 100th birthday. Vasant Raiji, who passed away this May in Mumbai, 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 turned out for Mumbai. Chandorkar now lives a quiet life in the Mumbai suburb of Dombivli.
Bedridden for the last six years, Chandorkar has lost his memory to Alzheimer’s, though watching cricket on TV is among the few things that piques his interest said daughter-in-law Vinita.
“We don’t know what is going through his mind but he does watch cricket on TV,” she said.
As a safety precaution against Covid-19, Chandorkar was shifted to an old age facility in September.
“He will be the third Ranji Trophy cricketer from India to complete 100 years after Dinkar Balwant Deodhar (14 January 1892 – 24 August 1993) and Vasant Naisadrai Raiji (26 January 1920 – 13 June 2020). It makes him the oldest living first-class cricketer from India,” said cricket statistician and historian Sudhir Vaidya.
It was under the guidance of Deodhar, that Chandorkar played for SP College and PYC Gymkhana in Pune.
“I have a complete record of every Ranji cricketer from 1934,” said the 82-year-old Vaidya, who was on the BCCI panel from 1974 to 2009. “I informed a few of the officials of the Maharashtra Cricket Association about it.”
In ESPNcricinfo, Chandorkar’s record is listed as having played seven first-class matches from 1943-44 to 1950-51 with a highest score of 37.
“He was coaching well into his 70s,” said Murlidhar Marathe, who is the hon secretary of the Dombivali Cricket Club. “In the Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali and Ambernath belt, Chandorkar was famous.”
Marathe recalled that even at the age of 80, Chandorkar would ride his bicycle from his house to the cricket grounds four kilometres away.
“He was regular with his fitness and maintained control over his diet,” he said.
According to his family, Chandorkar owned a glass works business in Mazagaon till 1958 and when it closed, he joined a glass works factory.