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Adieu to Chandra Nayudu: A Trailblazer for women in cricket commentary

Chandra Nayudu was India’s first female cricket commentator. Photo credit - The H
Chandra Nayudu was India’s first female cricket commentator. Photo credit - The Hindu
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Modified 06 Apr 2021
Feature

It is tough to make a unique mark for yourself in the game where your father (CK Nayudu) has been the country’s first captain. One is always at a risk of comparison with the old man. But that’s precisely what Chandra Nayudu, daughter of India’s first Test captain Col. CK Nayudu, did. An English professor at the local Government Degree College in Indore, she carved her own identity by becoming India’s first female cricket commentator. English broadcaster Henry Blofeld had once described her (as stated in Willow Tales by Fredun De Vitre) as “CK’s attractive daughter and perhaps the only female commentator in India.”

“I thought if he was the first in something then I should also be first in something related to cricket”

Chandra Nayudu at her home in Indore in 2018
Chandra Nayudu at her home in Indore in 2018

Mind you, we are talking about 1970s when women’s cricket itself was in its nascent stages. “It was a wish on my part to do something as a tribute to the memory of my great father. I thought if he was the first in something then I should also be first in something related to cricket”, she had said in an interview with Cricinfo many years back.

As the news of her passing away at the age of 88 came (she passed away on April 4th due to old age), I was reminded of my meeting with Chandra Nayudu around three years back at her house in Indore. That sole meeting had left an impression on me. The purpose of my visit was to take her blessings on the biography of her father written by me. The meeting was arranged thanks to her nephew and former Ranji player for Madhya Pradesh, Vijay Nayudu. Despite her health conditions, she had agreed to the meeting. The respect she commanded in Indore cricket circles was evident when former Indian selector Sanjay Jagdale, upon hearing (during my meeting with him) that I was going to meet her, dropped me to the house.

Memorabilia are for cricket fans: Chandra Nayudu

Entering the Nayudu house at Manormaganj, I could see numerous photos of Col. Saab (as CK Nayudu was referred). She came out of her room with the help of a walker and seemed pleased that even today the world remembered her father. Well, she had also been instrumental in ensuring that the world got to know more about her legendary father. She had authored a book titled ‘CK Nayudu – A Daughter Remembers’. Besides this, she had been kind enough to donate CK Nayudu's scrapbook as well as his silver bat which was presented to him by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1926. The memorabilia today resides at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai.

I thanked her on behalf of the cricket fans as I had the opportunity to see both these treasures. On this, her views were straightforward, she said: "These things are for cricket fans and it didn’t make sense for them to be lying in dust at home." I am sure such views are music to the ears of millions of cricket fans and collectors.

As our discussion continued, I could sense the pride that she had in narrating stories about CK. Even at this age, her eyes would light up as she took me down memory lane of her childhood, when her father was a cricketing superstar. Apparently, in the later stages of CK’s life, she used to be his chauffer and drive him around whenever required. Before bidding her goodbye, she gave me her business card and in fact asked her domestic help to order for more as the stock was getting finished. I was amazed, probably she was also as methodical as her father.

She was a trailblazer in every respect, much like CK. I am sure she was happy to see the progress made by women in cricket today. As she calls it a day in this life, her father would be there to receive her up there in the heavens and together they would quietly raise a toast to her contribution to this wonderful game.

A food for thought in the end – With the IPL starting in few days, it would be a good gesture on part of the organizing committee to pay tributes to this lady who charted her own path in this game dominated by men.

Published 06 Apr 2021, 09:39 IST
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