Rajinder Goel, a left-arm spinner par excellence, passed away at 77 on Sunday.
Hailed as one of the finest left-arm spinners to have never played for India, the Haryana Veteran, Rajinder Goel, was suffering from age-related health issues.
Goel, who made his Ranji Trophy debut for Patiala in 1957-58 season, played for Patiala, Delhi, Southern Punjab and Haryana in a career spanning 27 years.
When he bid adieu to the game after the 1984-85 season, the left-arm spinner had scalped 750 wickets at an average of 18.58.
After his retirement, he served Haryana and Indian cricket in various capacities, including talent spotter and mentor, with most notable being part of the U-19 selection panel for the Under-19 World Cup in 2000 which was won by India.
Ranji Trophy Highest wicket-taker
With 637 wickets in Ranji Trophy, Rajinder Goel remains the highest wicket-taker in India’s premier domestic first-class competition.
Goel, who was a contemporary of the likes of Bishan Singh Bedi, B.S. Chandrasekhar, E.A.S. Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan, was a classical spinner who balled with a flatter trajectory and variations which troubled the best of spinner hunters like legendary Vijay Manjrekar and Sunil Gavaskar.
In fact, the little master Sunil Gavaskar, who Goel nabbed five times in his career, has devoted a chapter in his second book “Idols” and wrote:
“He is the one bowler whom I have really dreaded facing in my life.
I have never been able to feel comfortable against his left-hand spinners and Goel has been the one who, because of his flatter trajectory, has not given me the opportunity to step down the track and drive.”
Close yet to so far
Rajinder Goel was a consistent performer in the domestic circuit. During the 1974-75 West Indies tour of India, his performance was recognised when he was picked in the Indian squad for the Bangalore Test.
But unfortunately for him, the team chose two off-spinners, EAS Prasanna and S Venkataraghavan to play along with leg-spinner BS Chandrasekhar.
However, the snub just mins before the debut did not dishearten Goel. He continued to trouble batsmen in the domestic circuit with his subtle changes in flight and drift for the following decade and would often say, “I was born in the wrong era,” on his inability to make it to the Indian squad.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly in press release on Goel’s death acknowledged the loss of a giant of domestic cricket. He said “The Indian cricketing community has lost a giant of domestic cricket today.”
It was in the acknowledgement of his gigantic performance that in 2012, Goel was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the BCCI. His death has come as shock for many of his contemporaries.
An era of a champion cricketer and a true servant of Indian cricket has come to an end with Rajinder Goel’s demise.
Follow us on facebook for more sports news & updates