The First Lady of Indian Cricket

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As the cricket crazy nation heads into another cricket season, we look back at one of the first ladies of Indian cricket. The daughter of a legend and a star in her own right. The story of the indomitable and multitalented Chandra Nayudu.

Chandra was the youngest of the three daughters of the legendary Col C.K. Nayudu from his first wife. Her love and adulation for the game must have started at an early age seeing her father, the country’s first test captain play and preach the game.

Nayudu hailed from Indore, one of the largest cities in Central India and home to the princely Holkar dynasty. The city also has strong affiliations towards the game of cricket.

Col Nayudu played most of his cricket here. Janardan Navle, the first Indian to face a ball in Test cricket used to ply his trade at the Holkar stadium.

Syed Mushtaq Ali, the country’s first Test centurion overseas was born and bought up in Indore. Curiously Indore is also home to the world’s first female cricket commentator despite what the Aussies might say.

In 1977 during a match between the MCC and Bombay a female voice aired from the commentary box at the Holkar Stadium. The voice was of Chandra Nayudu.

In her college days in Indore, she played the game consistently donning a white salwar kameez and demanded more women play cricket. Back then the women’s game was in its infancy. Chandra was the captain of the first Women’s cricket team from Uttar Pradesh.

After a brief stint in domestic cricket, Chandra went into commentating. In the 1970s she would regularly be on air for Ranji and other domestic matches; her mastery in English and Hindi came through in her equally engaging commentary in both languages.

During England’s tour of India in 79-80, Chandra was part of AIR’s commentary team. The BBC’s male-dominated commentary team was quite surprised by the sight of a female commentator.

She retired from commentating shortly after that. In 1982, she was invited to Lords during the Golden Jubilee Test Match between India and England.

As part of those Golden Jubilee celebrations, she was allowed to enter the Lords Common Room to present her father CK Nayudu’s bat to the Lords Museum.

Former India women’s team captain Diana Edulji, who met Chandra in the 1970s said she was very knowledgeable about the game. “I met her in the early 1970s when we had gone to play a women’s national tournament in Indore. I found her to be very fond of cricket.”

She was a lifelong member of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, Indore’s Rotary Club, and Giants International and took part in many social activities. She was active even some years back till her health deteriorated and she breathed her last on April 7, 2021.