The covid-19 has proven to be quite a tragic pandemic where we all have lost so many dear and near ones in recent times. The world of cricket is not spared from this pandemic either. Saurashtra cricket also has lost one of its finest former all-round cricketers, Rajendra Jadeja to this fatal virus. After a valiant fight against this deadly virus he lost the battle of life on 16th May 2021 in his hometown Jamnagar. People from cricket fraternity not only lost a dear friend but also a giant personality of kathiavad cricket. It is a kind of irreparable loss to this region and a void which would not be filled very easily.
The princely state of Jamnagar has produced so many legends of the game of cricket. We can start all the way from Mahraja Ranjit Sinhji (Jaam Ranji) and Duleep Sinhji. We can further go on to add in the list the names of Vinoo Mankad, Salim Durrani, Ajay Jadeja, Ravindra Jadeja and of course Rajendra Jadeja. Hailing from this rich traditional cricket centre, Rajendra Jadeja made a name of himself by becoming a successful aggressive fast bowler all rounder. Having played more than 50 first class matches Rajendra Jadeja played Ranji trophy for both Saurashtra and Mumbai. Many cricket pundits of yester years believed that he was an India material cricketer and should have played for India.
Rajendra Jadeja, a tall, supremely fit and lion hearted cricketer appeared for 13 first class seasons in Indian domestic cricket and represented Indian University under-22 team against MCC. He also went on to play prestigious Duleep trophy for West Zone and scored his career best 97 alongside Sunil Gavaskar. He was also part of star studded Nirlon team in Mumbai in late 70s. Rajendra Jadeja successfully played club cricket in England for Finchley cricket club in Middlesex County for many years.
After retiring from playing cricket Rajendra Jadeja remained involved with the game in various capacities. He was one of the senior most Match Referee with BCCI and served on this post since its inception in BCCI domestic cricket. He was also appointed as Match Referee by BCCI in IPL in the year of 2015. Rajendra Jadeja was a qualified level-B coach and worked with young cricketers of Saurashtra over the period of many years. His latest success was with Sorath Lions when they lifted the first ever Saurashtra Premier League (SPL) title under his coachman ship. Over the years he also was entrusted with the responsibility of being a selector for Saurashtra Cricket Association, for different teams.
A man with many hats gave his 100% to whatever duty he was assigned with the game of cricket. He was one of the individual who added great value to this game by working on different roles associated with the game. Cricket remained his top priority for ever and it reflected in his demeanour. ‘Bapsi’ and ‘Raj bha’ were his nick names and we always used to call him that way, and he would always smile back and reply. Rajendra Jadeja at the age of 65, has gone too soon but he has definitely created some great memories for all of us to cherish for the times to come.
Rest in peace Bapsi, you will be missed.
By Prakash Bhatt (Former Saurashtra cricketer)