Indian cricket Monday mourned the loss of record-breaking bowler Rajinder Goel, who despite taking 750 first-class wickets — including an unmatched 637 in the Ranji Trophy — never played for his country.
Goel, a left-arm spinner, died aged 77 on Sunday, prompting the Board of Control for Cricket in India to pay tribute to the veteran whose career lasted 27 years.
“The Indian cricketing community has lost a giant of domestic cricket today,” BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said of Goel, who played to the age of 44.
“His staggering record tells you about his craft and the control he had over it. To have a career that lasts more than 25 years and still be able to perform consistently speaks about his dedication and commitment towards the game.
“To be able to pick 750 wickets needs years and years of hard work and I salute his efforts. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family.”
Deeply saddened by the passing away of Shri Rajinder Goel, the highest wicket-taker in the history of Ranji Trophy. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/6wIOfolnJc
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) June 21, 2020
Goel plied his trade during India’s spin era of former captain Bishan Singh Bedi, who was often said to be the reason for the celebrated bowler not making the national cut.
“It’s unjust that ‘Goeli’ with 750 first-class wickets, 637 of them in Ranji Trophy alone, the highest ever — will forever be known as the finest spinner never to have played for India,” Bedi said in The Times of India newspaper.
“People still feel that it was my presence which kept him out of India squad — we were both left-arm orthodox spinners — but that’s not entirely true. He started before me and ended after me.”
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) June 21, 2020
Goel played his last game in the 1984-1985 season but his record for wickets in the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic first-class competition, remains intact. He died of an age-related illness, Indian media said.
“So who is the finest cricketer never to play for India? Many may well suggest Rajinder Goel,” Rajdeep Sardesai, a veteran journalist and son of former India player Dilip Sardesai, wrote on Twitter.