Who is Raghunath Chandorkar?

The name would not have been familiar even to sports writers in Mumbai until recently.

The basic information about his first-class career is here:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/player/raghunath-chandorkar-27863

Note that he has a younger brother, also a first-class cricketer, who is living at 87.

Now there is nothing remarkable about his cricket career (except perhaps that he played along with DB Deodhar and Vasant Raiji, the only other Indian f-c cricketers to cross 100).

In June 2020, he became India’s longest-living first class cricketer following the death of Vasant Raiji. Later in 2020 he celebrated his 100th birthday. Following the death of NZ player Alan Burgess in early 2021, Raghunath became the world’s oldest living first-class player.

This article seems to have the most recent picture of him:

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/sports-news-raghunath-chandorkar-becomes-third-indian-cricketer-to-complete-a-century-of-birthdays/364928

This live link gives the list of all first-class players who lived to be over 100:

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

If he is still living a little more than a year from now he will become India’s longest-living f-c player (after Deodhar). By July 2026, he would have become the oldest such player from all countries, (after John Manners). On the way he would pass the record of N Gordon, the only Test player here who lived to be a little over 103.

He may not be fully aware of his and other’s records, as he has been a patient of Dr Alzheimer for some time. He lives in an old-age home in Mumbai.

The oldest first-class cricketers-updated in July 2020

Anything written on this topic becomes obsolete soon when people drop off the list. Here we look at the Wikipedia list as it was on Jul 4, 2020:

Longest lived FC players-Jul 2020

Also the live link for later dates.:

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

We see that the longest lived player was John Manners of England (1914-2020) or 105+

From India there are centenarians in DB Deodhar (1892-1992, 101+) and Vasant Raiji (1920-2020, 100+).

As of today the only living first-class cricketer over 100 is Alan Burgess of New Zealand (1920-, 100+).

For a short period Vasant Raiji was the oldest living first-class cricketer (from Manners’s death on March 7, 2020 to his own demise on June 13 of the same year). He also wrote a number of cricket-related books.

The only Test player here is South Africa’s Norman Gordon (1911-2014, 103+). He played all his Tests in the SA-Eng series of 1938-39, including the Timeless Test at Durban.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Gordon

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/