Vasant Raiji readies to witness return of Test cricket at CCI

Oct 24, 2009, 07:23 IST | Clayton Murzello

Vasant Raiji, Mumbai's oldest living first-class cricketer at 90, can't wait to witness CCI's test return in December

Vasant Raiji, Mumbai's oldest living first-class cricketer at 90, can't wait to witness CCI's test return in December

Vasant Raiji

Vasant Raiji's association with the Cricket Club of India (cci) and Brabourne Stadium dates back to his childhood. And that's going back a long way considering Raiji is a few months shy of celebrating his 90th birthday.

Raiji, who is Mumbai's oldest living first-class cricketer, was delighted with the news of Test cricket returning to the Brabourne Stadium which will host the third and final Test of the India vs Sri Lanka series in December.

"This is good news. I have a certain attachment to the ground where I watched several Tests, Ranji Trophy and Pentangular matches. I even played for Mumbai at the Brabourne.

"Yes, I will make it a point to attend the Test match although I won't be watching every ball," Raiji told MiD DAY yesterday. The India vs England Test was scheduled to be held at the Brabourne Stadium last year before the terror attacks in the city made it impossible for the game to be played.

Kevin Pietersen's men played a warm-up fixture there and were all set for a return which would have been historic in city cricket annals. Former CCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur, who passed away recently, did not live to realise his dream of witnessing the return of Test cricket on his beloved turf.

The India vs England Test in 1972-73 was the last traditional game played on CCI turf. A dispute over seats between the Bombay Cricket Association and the CCI led to the BCA building its own stadium. Raiji thought the CCI paid dearly for its stubborn approach. He recalled: "The BCA was only asking for a few more seats and when they spoke about building their own stadium (Wankhede Stadium), the CCI thought it was a bluff. They only realised the seriousness of it all when they were invited for the foundation stone ceremony. By then, it was too late for a compromise."

Raiji, also a cricket historian,  wrote the book, Cricket Club of India and the Brabourne Stadium 1937-1987 with celebrated statistician Anandji Dossa. Of the 17 Tests at the Brabourne, India managed to win six while 11 ended in draws.

Ahmedabad and Kanpur will host the first two India vs Sri Lanka Tests respectively while there will be two Twenty20 internationals at Nagpur and Mohali. The five-match one-day series will be held in Rajkot, Vishakapatnam, Cuttack, Kolkata and New Delhi.

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