Cricketer Raghunath Chandorkar is batting on 100!

Updated: 21 November, 2020 07:58 IST | Subodh Mayure | Mumbai

Former Maharashtra and Mumbai Ranji Trophy player becomes third Indian first-class cricketer to reach a century in life after Prof Deodhar and Vasant Raiji

Raghunath Chandorkar, who turns 100 today. He played first-class cricket for Mumbai and Maharashtra
Raghunath Chandorkar, who turns 100 today. He played first-class cricket for Mumbai and Maharashtra

Had it not been for an alert cricket statistician and chronicler of events, the cricketing fraternity wouldn't have known that former Maharashtra and Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman Raghunath Chandorkar celebrates his 100th birthday this year. He is a centurion today.

Prakash Dahatonde, 60, got prominent website ESPNCricinfo to change Chandorkar's birth year from 1922 to 1920 after his tweet which said that he has proof in the form of a page from Chandorkar's passport.

A page from former Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman Raghunath Chandorkar's passport, displaying his correct date of birth
A page from former Mumbai wicketkeeper-batsman Raghunath Chandorkar's passport, displaying his correct date of birth

Dahatonde had gotten to work on the accurate year of birth when he recently received a query about Chandorkar's date of birth from Theodore Braganza, the secretary of The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Scorers of India (ACSSI).

Chandorkar is only the third Indian first-class cricketer to complete a century in life after Prof DB Deodhar and Vasant Raiji; Maharashtra being the common factor — Deodhar (Pune), Raiji (Mumbai) and Chandorkar (Dombivli).

Prakash Dahatonde
Prakash Dahatonde

Raiji, 100, passed away in June this year while Deodhar, 101, breathed his last in August 1993.

Chandorkar played under greats like Deodhar and Vijay Merchant across 1943 and 1951, a period in which played seven Ranji Trophy matches. He now lives in Ambernath, near Badlapur. Though he struggles to recollect his playing days due to Alzheimer's, he enjoys watching cricket matches on television every day.

Interestingly, Deodhar, Raiji and Chandorkar, all three life centurions, figured in the West Zone Ranji Trophy League match between Maharashtra and Baroda at Pune in December 1944. Raiji was playing for Baroda then while Deodhar and Chandorkar were donning Maharashtra colours.

Like their eldest sibling, brothers Vasant, Dr Kashinath and Professor Ganesh were keen sportsmen. Vasant, 86, represented Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy, while Kashinath was once India's No.3 in table tennis. Ganesh too represented Maharashtra at the TT Nationals.

"We brothers wanted to play like Raghunath as he was good at all sports. I still remember his match for West Zone against the Lindsay Hassett-led Australian Services team, played at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai in 1946. His wicket-keeping in that match was so outstanding that some of the visiting team's batsmen were clueless as to how they got stumped by him - all within a fraction of a second," Ahmednagar-based Vasant told mid-day.

Chandorkar enjoyed playing club cricket in Mumbai, especially the Dr HD Kanga Cricket League and Purshottam Shield. He performed for Jolly Cricketers, a club which Test-playing brothers Madhav Apte and Arvind played for.

"Playing the Kanga League and Purshottam Shield was his passion and he never missed a single game. He used to share partnerships with Madhav Apte and Arvind Apte and scored lots of runs for Jolly Cricketers.

"He took some difficult catches behind the stumps effortlessly. I have fond memories of his hook shots. Today, when I see India's Rohit Sharma playing the hook, I recall various innings my brother played," reminisced Vasant, who represented Maharashtra in seven first-class games from 1956 to 1962.

Chandorkar was selected for the Maharashtra Ranji Trophy team in 1943. The same year he got the nod for the state's football team. But cricket was pursued.

During the same period, he played hockey for Khadki Rangers in Pune. He also excelled in wrestling and swimming.

Chandorkar spent the latter part of his life guiding budding cricketers at Mumbai Cricket Association's summer vacation camps in Kalyan-Dombivli for several years. Even at the age of 73, he guided cricketers from Ambernath and Kalyan. He also managed junior teams to Kenya for exposure.

Chandorkar's grandson Shravan Hardikar, commissioner of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, remarked: "Cricket is still his passion. Though he hardly remembers things, he enjoys watching matches on TV. I used to stay at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai five to six years ago and he was at our home for around a month. Then, even at the age of 95, he got all the children in the building together and gave them vital tips on how to play specific shots and how to bowl good length balls. Today, although his overall health is very good, he is unfortunately suffering from Alzheimers, so it's difficult for him to recollect things. But he still enjoys cricket."

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First Published: 21 November, 2020 07:24 IST

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