Former Test cricketer Vasant Ranjane dead
Mumbai: Former India Test cricketer Vasant Ranjane passed away in Pune today following brief illness, sources said.
He was 74 and is survived by two sons, one of whom - Subhash - also played first class cricket for Maharashtra.
Incidentally, Subhash`s son and Vasant`s grandson Shubham is representing the association in under 19 cricket conducted by BCCI.
"He was briefly ill and was admitted to Ruby Hall Clinic where he died," said former Maharashtra opener and national selection panel member Surendra Bhave.
Ranjane, born in Pune on July 22, 1937, played at a time when pace bowling was given the short shrift by Indian captains and selectors.
As a result he played in only seven Tests between 1958-59, when he made his debut against the all-powerful West Indies side led by Gerry Alexander at Kanpur, and 1964 – when he played his last game against Australia at Chennai.
His club, Maharashtra and India mate Chandu Borde described Ranjane as a very good bowler who should have played more number of times for the country.
"We played for the same club, Vilas CC and Maharashtra. He was a very fine bowler, one of the best pace bowlers the country has produced. His line and length was superb, he was always there on the spot. He used to produce a ball that came in and troubled all the top batsmen. I have seen top batsmen struggling against him," said former India captain and Test batting mainstay Borde.
Borde recalled how the West Indies, who were afraid to face him on jute matting at Green Park in Kanpur, planned to take him out of the equation and succeeded also.
"When he batted, the West Indies fast bowlers attacked him on his body and he got hit four or five times on his leg and he was not even wearing a thigh pad. He could not even walk after he was bowled and did not know where the pavilion was, so dazed was he. I had to run on the ground and bring him in. But he could not bowl when West Indies batted and they had succeeded in their plan," said Borde.
"He would have been the ideal bowler in English conditions," rued Borde about the non-selection of Ranjane, who played first class cricket till 1971, for India`s tour of the Old Blighty in 1967-68 under Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.
In all, Ranjane grabbed 19 wickets in Tests at 34.15 per innings and 175 wickets from 64 first class ties, most of them secured on shirt front or spinning tracks, for Maharashtra and Railways.
He burst on the national scene in a sensational fashion, with a hat-trick and innings figures of nine for 35 against Saurashtra on his first class debut in 1956-57 that he
complemented with a haul of four for 36 in the second innings.
After his debut Test, when he got hit and could not bowl in the second innings after having taken 1 for 35 in the first, Ranjane played in the next Test series at home, against Ted Dexter`s Englishmen in 1961, took nine wickets in three games.
Selected for the disastrous visit to the Caribbean in 1962, the tour in which first-choice captain Nari Contractor suffered a near-fatal skull injury and was replaced by Pataudi at the helm, Ranjane was given a chance to play only in the fifth and final Test and impressed with figures of four for 72 and two for 81.
He played only two more Tests, one against Mike Smith`s England at Chennai in 1964 and the other against Bob Simpson`s Australia in the same year and in the same city, but never played for India again.