Maharajkumar of Vizianagram

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Maharajkumar of Vizianagram : biography

28 December 1905 – 2 December 1965

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vijay Ananda Gajapathi Raju (28 December 1905 – 2 December 1965), better known as the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram or Vizzy, was an Indian cricketer, cricket administrator and politician.


  • References disagree about Vizzy’s place of birth. Wisden, Cricinfo and similar sources put it at Benares. According to some Indian sources,Sources which provide Vizzy’s place of birth as Vizianagram include Mihir Bose’s A History of Indian Cricket (p. 547 of the 1990 edition) and the almanacs brought out by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Scorers of India (ACSSI) (p. 461 of the 1990–91 edition, for instance). he was born in Vizianagaram.


Vizzy organised his cricket team in 1926 and constructed a ground in his palace compounds. He recruited players from India and abroad. When MCC cancelled the tour of India in 1930–31 owing to political problems, he organised a team of his own and toured India and Ceylon. He succeeded in drafting Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe for the team, a considerable feat as Hobbs had previously refused offers for five such tours. Vizzy brought Learie Constantine to India a few years later. He brought Mushtaq Ali to Benares for training when he was still a high school student. "If Vizzy had been content with being such a cricket sponsor", writes Mihir Bose in A History of Indian Cricket,Mihir Bose, A History of Indian Cricket, Andre Deutsch Ltd (1990), p.67, ISBN 0-233-98563-8 "like Sir Horatio Mann in the eighteenth century, or Sir Julien Cahn in the twentieth, his name would be one of the most revered in Indian cricket. But he was consumed with the ambition to be a great cricketer".

The organisation of the 1930–31 tour gave Vizzy a standing in Indian cricket that was second only to the Maharaja of Patiala.Richard Cashman, Patrons, players and the crowd, Orient Longman (1980), ISBN 0-86131-212-0, pp. 42–43 About this time, Patiala fell out with Lord Willingdon, the viceroy of India, and Vizzy got close with the viceroy. He donated a pavilion named after the viceroy in the newly constructed Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi. When the national championship was started in 1934, he attempted to donate a gold ‘Willingdon trophy’ but Patiala beat him to it with his Ranji Trophy.

His wealth and contacts brought him great influence in Indian cricket, even though his cricketing abilities were not great. In the early thirties, he offered to pay the board fifty thousand rupees, forty thousand of it for Indian tour of England that happened in 1932. He was appointed as the ‘deputy vice captain’ for the tour but withdrew ostensibly on reasons of health and form.Boria Majumdar, Twenty two yards to freedom, Penguin (2004), ISBN 0-670-05794-0, p.43, quotes Vizzy’s statement.


Vizzy finally was named the captain for Indian cricket team for the 1936 tour of England, a post that he secured after lobbying and manipulation. Unfortunately, his desperately poor captaincy on the field resulted in even the normally reserved British press commenting on it. Some of the senior players in the squad, including Lala Amarnath, C. K. Nayudu and Vijay Merchant, were critical of Vizzy’s playing abilities and captaincy, and the team was split between those who supported and criticised the captain.

The low point in the tour occurred during India’s match against Minor Counties at Lord’s. Lala Amarnath had been nursing a back injury during the game. Vizzy had Amarnath pad up, but didn’t put him in to bat as a succession of other batsmen were sent in ahead of him, which prevented Amarnath from resting his injury. Amarnath was finally put in to bat at the end of the day. Visibly angry after returning to the dressing room, he threw his kit into his bag and muttered in Punjabi, "I know what is transpiring". Vizzy took this as an affront, and conspired with team manager Major Jack Brittain-Jones to have Lala Amarnath sent back from the tour without playing the first test match. It is also alleged that in the 1st Test against the England, Vizzy offered Mushtaq Ali a gold watch to run out Vijay Merchant.