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Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu (31 October 1895 – 14 November 1967), also known as ‘CK’, was the first captain of the Indian cricket team in Test matches. He played first-class cricket regularly till 1958, and returned for one last time in 1963 at the age of 68. In 1923, the ruler of Holkar invited him to Indore and made him a Captain (land and air)in his army, conferring on him the honour of a Colonel in Holkar’s Army.
Arthur Gilligan led the first MCC tour to India in the 1926-27 season. For the Hindus at Bombay Gymkhana, Nayudu hit 153 in 116 minutes with 11 sixes. One of the sixes, off Bob Wyatt, landed on the roof of the Gymkhana.The MCC presented him with a silver bat in recognition of that innings. He was also the first Indian cricketer to endorse a brand (Bathgate Liver Tonic) in 1941. The Government of India awarded him the third highest (then second highest) civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1956.
Nayudu was born on 31 October 1895 in Bara Bada Nagpur to Cottari Surya Prakash Rao Nayudu, son of Rai Bahadur Cottari Narayana Swamy Nayudu from Machilipatnam, Andra Pradesh, a lawyer and landlord owning several villages and sizable chunk in Nagpur. Besides being a flourishing lawyer, he was a pioneer member of All India National Congress party.
Narayana Swamy was affluent enough to send both his sons to England for further studies. His elder son, Cottari Vekatramana Nayudu, was married to the daughter of Raja Prabhakar Moorthy of Eluru and had no issue. The younger son, Cottari Surya Prakash Rao Nayudu, had four sons and two daughters, did his B.A. and M.A at Downing College, Cambridge University and was called to the Middle Temple Bar in 1891. He was acclaimed for his physical prowess and known as Hercules in Cambridge varsity campus. He was Justice in High Court of Holkar State for some years and functioned as Chief Justice for some time. Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar was ruler in those days. The Maharajah had put on record that he had faith in only two persons- Surya Prakash Rao being the first and K.S. Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar, who played for Sussex and England and was contemporary of C. SuryaPrakash Rao Nayudu while at Cambridge.
Nayudu was drafted in the school team at the age of seven, and showed promise for a bright future. He made his first class debut in 1916 in the Bombay Triangular. For the Hindus against the Europeans, he came in to bat at No.9 with his team tottering at 79 for 7. He blocked his fin six different decades.He made his last appearance in the Ranji Trophy in 1956-57, aged 62, scoring 52 in his last innings for Uttar Pradesh. Earlier in the season he had made 84 against Rajasthan, striking Vinoo Mankad for two sixes. His final outing was in a charity match in 1963-64, when he played for the Maharashtra Governor’s XI against the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s XI. Nayudu had nine children from his two marriages, seven girls and two sons, namely C Narayana Swami Nayudu and Prakash Nayudu, who was an Indian athlete and Indian police services officer.