637 Ranji wickets, but no India cap! RIP Rajinder Goel!
- Cartoon by Satish Acharya
Domestic cricket stalwart Rajinder Goel died on Sunday after suffering from illness for quite some time. He was 77 and breathed his last at his residence.
A left—arm spinner, while Goel never managed to break into the Indian team, he took 750 wickets in a 24—year career for Haryana. He also represented Punjab and Delhi. Goel also holds the record for most wickets in the Ranji Trophy. He leads the tally with 637 wickets. Goel received the CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 from the BCCI for his service to Indian cricket.
Born to an assistant station master in the Indian Railways, Goel first tasted success for North Zone schools in 1957 when he snared four wickets against West Zone in the final of the All-India schools tournament and was declared the best bowler of the tournament.
He made his Ranji debut in the next season. He began his first-class career with Patiala, which then evolved into the Southern Punjab team. He moved to Delhi in 1963 and Haryana ten years later.
Goel never played for India officially but appeared against Ceylon in an unofficial Test at Ahmedabad in 1964-65 where he took four wickets in the second innings. He never got a look in because of Bishan Singh Bedi who bowled in a similar style.
There was a time when Bedi was axed from the Indian team for the Bangalore Test against the West Indies in 1974-75. Goel got a look in but as fate would have it, he was excluded at the last moment. He also bagged 6/102 and 3/43 against the Australians in 1979-80.