Rajinder Goel, the stalwart of India's domestic cricket, who featured 157 First-Class and eight List-A matches, has died at the age of 77 after battling a prolonged illness. He is survived by his wife and son Nitin Goel, who has also played First-Class cricket and operates as a domestic match-referee.
In a career spanning 27 years, the former left-arm spinner Goel grabbed 750 First-Class wickets and remains Ranji Trophy's highest wicket-taker with 637 scalps. He was a prominent figure in the early 1970s but the closest he came to earning an India cap was when he was included in the squad ahead of the first Test match of the series against West Indies in 1974/75.
"It is a huge loss for the game of cricket and personally for me. He was one of the best, if not the best left-arm spinner that this country has ever seen. His contribution to the game post retirement was massive," former BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra said.
Representing Patiala, Southern Punjab, Delhi and Haryana in domestic cricket, Goel played First-Class matches till the age of 44 and in 2017 became the recipient of the prestigious CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to him by Bishan Singh Bedi. In fact, Bedi had great things to say about Goel, once calling the former spinner a 'captain's dream.'
"I rate him (Goel) very high. He was an outstanding professional, very committed. He never had to bowl with 400 on the board which Padmakar Shivalkar had because of the strong Bombay batting line-up. Goel started before me and finished after me. This is what I call selfless commitment. I remember he never asked for a field. Chandra (BS Chandrasekhar) never did. Goel was a captain's dream," Bedi had once remarked.