India’s oldest living first-class cricketer

Vasant Raiji, who played in first-class cricket for Bombay and Baroda in 1938-50, celebrates his 100th birthday on Republic Day, 2020:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/33480.html

A news item from 26 Jan 2020:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/cricket/india-s-oldest-living-first-class-cricketer-vasant-raiji-hits-a-century/story-1IsG9ZUFj83Vk2uoXYtj8K.html

Among other things, he wrote some cricket-related books including a biography of one-Test player LP Jai.

At this stage, it is worth looking at the oldest first-class cricketers from all countries. This is one of the subjects where Wikipedia is more useful than Cricinfo:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Longest-lived_first-class_cricketers

From this, we can see that Mr Raiji is the 24th first-class cricketer to cross 100.

The only other player from India is the better known DB Deodhar, who lived to be 101+.

The only Test player to cross 100 was the South African bowler N Gordon, 103+ :

http://www.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/45239.html

All of his 5 Tests were in the 1938-39 SA v Eng series, including the famous timeless Test:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/17542/scorecard/62657/south-africa-vs-england-5th-test-england-tour-of-south-africa-1938-39

Meanwhile, we look at other long-lived Test players.

The longest-lived Test players of all time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Longest-lived_Test_cricketers

New Zealand’s Eric Tindill is the only other Test player to cross 99. India’s representative is MJ Gopalan at 94+.

In case you are thinking of the strange case of C Ramaswami, it is now generally accepted that he died in Jan 1990 at 93+ :

http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/33059.html

Interestingly, Wisden carried his obituary in the 2015 edition only in the “supplementary obituaries” section. This included the obituaries of some who were killed in the Great War and had somehow not been covered by Wisden until then. Better late (by 100 years) than never.

C Ramaswami obit

The oldest living Test cricketers are here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Oldest_living_Test_cricketers

This is led by South Africa’s John Watkins (96+) while India’s representative is DK Gaekwad (91+), captain of the 1959 team and father of AD Gaekwad.

Some of these lists are also in Cricinfo but they are not updated frequently. For instance, the list of oldest-lived Test players

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283742.html

includes at least two (CK Singh of WI and Rajinder Pal of India) whose deaths have been reported elsewhere.

Also see:http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283740.html

 

 

 

Long-lived cricketers

A small landmark went unnoticed earlier this month. Lindsay Tuckett, who played 9 Tests for South Africa in 1947-49, passed away at the age of 97. He was the last surviving Test player who had played first-class cricket before World War 2. He started playing FC matches in 1934-35

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/47559.html

Norman Gordon, also from South Africa, played 5 Tests in 1938-39, died in 2014 and was the last surviving Test player from before the War. He is also the only Test player (and one of a handful of first-class players) to have lived for more than a century.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/45239.html

Fortunately Cricinfo keeps track of these things. The link given below is for the longest-lived Test players (and there is also one for ODI players). This is a dynamic link which is apparently updated daily. Anyway I am also giving a snapshot of part of the page as it was on 17/09/2016.

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283740.html

oldest-test-players-sep-2016

As of today, Lindsay Tuckett is 4th on the list of longest-lived Test players. Andy Ganteaume, who died earlier in 2016 at 95+, is a little further down. And MJ Gopalan at 94+ is the longest lived for India.

The above list is of people who are no longer alive. It is also of interest to see the details of those who are still living. Here is Cricinfo’s list as of today:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283742.html

oldest-living-test-players

This snapshot is listed as being correct as on 15/09/2016. The earliest Test debuts were that of Weekes and Harvey almost simultaneously in January 1948. So there is no one living who had played Tests in 1947 and earlier.

I have included everyone who have crossed their 86th birthday. We see that JC Watkins, who played 15 Tests forĀ  South Africa in 1949-57, is the oldest living player at 93+. Somewhat further down is India’s oldest living player DK Gaekwad (father of Anshuman) at 87+. And Gary Sobers, who crossed 80 some time ago, is also on the list (though not in the above snapshot).

However, Cricinfo’s record-keeping is not as good as you may think. The West Indies player CK Singh (2 Tests in 1960) died in late 2015. This is mentioned in CricketArchive and Wikipedia, but Cricinfo thinks he is still living.

RH “Deepak” Shodhan, who died earlier in 2016, was older than Gaekwad by a few days and was India’s oldest living player for some time. See this interview which was conducted shortly before he passed away. And here is another interview with DK Gaekwad.

Anyway, I checked the details of the top few names and verified that none of them had played first-class cricket before the War. We do have Weekes and Imtiaz Ali who made their first-class debuts in 1944-45, during the war. Everyone else started in 1946 or later.

What about non-Test players? Though Cricinfo doesn’t help here, there is a Wikipedia article which is also updated frequently:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Oldest_first-class_cricketers

Snapshot as of 17/09/2016: This covers the top 10 on the list. There were a total of 18 such players.

oldest-fc-players

This covers all FC players who lived/are living past their 100th birthday.This tells us that the oldest FC player was Jim Hutchinson (1896-2000) who lived to be a little short of 104. Norman Gordon is 3rd on the all-time list, while DB Deodhar represents India at 101+

John Manners is the only living FC player above 100. He had made his first-class debut in 1936.

Professor Deodhar is the only Indian to achieve this “century”. However, BK Garudachar died earlier in 2016 soon after crossing 99. He had started his FC career in 1935-36. My fellow trivia-hunter Sreeram points out that Vasant Raiji (better known as a cricket writer) is India’s oldest living FC player (96+) and had made his debut in 1938-39, just before the war. He succeeded Garudachar as the oldest living Indian in this category. Also see:

http://cricketbadger.com/2016/02/vasant-raiji-is-now-indias-oldest-living-first-class-cricketer/

This article from the 2016 Wisden also mentions John Manners as well as Leo Harrison (94+). The latter is the only other surviving player from pre-war England, having made his FC debut just in time in 1939.

Finally, you can also read this post about 250-year old tortoises:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/how-to-live-to-be-250/