Jadeja, a medium-pacer who could bat well, played 50 first-class matches, in which he took 134 wickets, besides scoring 1536 runs, between the 1974-75 and 1986-87 seasons. He also played 11 List A matches, in which he took 14 wickets. Post his retirement, he became a BCCI match referee, and officiated in 53 first-class, 18 List A and 34 T20 matches.
Jadeja had a significant Mumbai connection as like many top players of that era, he moved to play for the domestic giants later. He played for Nirlon in the Times Shield. “It’s a very sad news indeed,” opening legend Sunil Gavaskar told TOI.
“We were dear friends. He has played with me since school days. He was the captain of the Siddharth and Poddar college teams. He was a part of our team when I led the Indian Varsities team against MCC in 1977. He was a fine all-rounder. He could generate pace and bounce even on slow wickets. He was a match referee on the domestic circuit for a long time, so we used to meet quite often and he used to keep in touch with me, but we lost touch in the last couple of years. He played many times under me, for Mumbai and for West Zone. He was unlucky to not have played for India,” former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar told TOI.
“Raju (as he was fondly called by his friends) played with me since our university days, and then for Nirlon. Many times, we toured together and I have wonderful memories with him. He was a contender for India berth in those days. He was a genuine allrounder, and was considered before me in that category. However, he didn’t do justice to his batting. He was a good bowler, but when you are an allrounder, you can’t be good in just one department,” said former India batsman and chief selector Sandeep Patil.
Expressing its condolences, Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) said in a release,: “Everyone at the SCA is deeply saddened due to the untimely demise of Rajendrasinh Jadeja, one of the most remarkable yesteryears cricketers of Saurashtra. He left for the heavenly abode today early morning after fighting a tough battle against Covid-19. He gave many outstanding performances in his career. He was not only an excellent cricketer, but also one of the finest coaches and match referees. He also served as a selector, coach and team manager at the SCA. His in-depth knowledge of cricket and passion for the game were indeed remarkable.”
Former BCCI and SCVA secretary Niranjan Shah said: “Rajendrasinh Jadeja was a man with quality, style, ethics and great cricketing capabilities. His dedication and contribution to cricket shall be remembered forever.”
SCA president Jaydev Shah said: “it is an immense loss to the world of cricket. Rajendra Sir was one of the finest men that I have met. I was fortunate to play many matches when he was our head coach, manager and mentor.”