November 23, 2002

CS Nayudu - Workaholic extraordinaire

For long under the shadow of his illustrious brother CK - elder to him by 19 years - Cottari Subbana Nayudu established himself as one of the prominent players in first-class cricket in the country in the thirties and forties on the strength of his allround capabilities.


A glutton for work, Nayudu loved bowling long spells and somehow it seems fitting that he holds the world record of sending down most number of deliveries in a first-class game. In the Ranji Trophy final against Bombay in 1944-45, Nayudu bowled 152.5 overs (917 balls), a unique feat of endurance. His two spells are worth recording for posterity 64.5-10-153-6 and 88-15-275-5. At least he was rewarded with 11 wickets for his toil even if Bombay won the match.
As a leg-spin googly bowler Nayudu was in a class of his own. This is reinforced by the fact that he took 295 wickets in the Ranji Trophy, a record that stood for over a decade till another leg-spinner VV Kumar surpassed it in 1970. A big spinner of the ball, Nayudu was an attacking bowler illustrated both by his average (23.49) and by the fact that he needed just 56 matches to reach the mark. It must not be forgotten that Nayudu was also a very capable late-order batsman who scored 2575 runs at an average of 30.20 in a quarter century long career in the national championship.

A tower of strength to various teams in the Ranji Trophy, Nayudu reserved his greatest feats for Holkar and was a key player of the princely state's halycon period from 1944 to 1954. In eleven years, Holkar failed to reach the final only once and Nayudu was among the cricketers responsible for this enviable record. He took 14 wickets in a match once and twice captured more than 30 wickets in a season, a commendable feat given the fact that very few matches were played in the formative years of the competition. In 1942-43, Nayudu became the first bowler to take 40 wickets in a season, a tremendous achievement considering that he played only four matches.

A glutton for work, Nayudu loved bowling long spells and somehow it seems fitting that he holds the world record of sending down most number of deliveries in a first-class game. In the Ranji Trophy final against Bombay in 1944-45, Nayudu bowled 152.5 overs (917 balls), a unique feat of endurance. His two spells are worth recording for posterity 64.5-10-153-6 and 88-15-275-5. At least he was rewarded with 11 wickets for his toil even if Bombay won the match.

In a three-decade long first-class career that commenced with representing the Hindus in the Quadrangular in the early thirties, Nayudu scored 5786 runs at an average of 23.90 with four hundreds while picking up 647 wickets at 26.54 apiece.

It is against this impressive record that Nayudu's Test figures make for rather bewildering reading. In 11 Test matches, he scored 147 runs at an average of 9.18 and picked up just two wickets at 179.50 apiece. It would be easy to dismiss him as one of the many players who could not successfully make the transition from first-class cricket to the international level. The point was that he was in and out of the side. He played two Tests against England in 1933-34 and was not picked for the 1936 tour of England. Sent later to reinforce the side, he played two Tests.

He toured England again in 1946, playing in two more Tests. On the 1947-48 tour of Australia he played in four Tests and then was brought back for one last fling against England at Kanpur in 1951-52. Admittedly, in almost all the Tests, he had difficulty in maintaining control over line and length.

But even in the midst of this mediocre record, Nayudu's name is associated with one storybook feat. This was in his debut Test at Calcutta. India following on 156 runs behind, were 149 for six when Nayudu joined Dilawar Hussain. There were still nearly two hours left and the odds were heavily stacked against the home team saving the game. Nayudu held on firmly to score 15 out of a seventh wicket stand of 52 and by the time he had been dismissed, the clouds of defeat had evaporated. Just to prove that he could also play strokes, Nayudu's runs were made up of a six, two fours and a single!

By any yardstick, Nayudu was an unusual bowler and C Ramaswami who was his teammate on the 1936 tour has left us this vivid portrait: "CS bent his body so low while delivering the ball that his head was almost on a level with the top of the stumps. He stretched his arm fully and threw his body weight into his delivery so that the ball came off the pitch very quickly. He also spun the ball extremely well but unfortunately his length and direction were not always controlled. Probably because of this unpredictability CS got quite a number of wickets. Batsmen did not seem to know when CS was going to produce that unplayable ball."

The apt description just about sums up Nayudu's art and skill.