Former India opener Sudhir Naik, who played three Test matches in 1974, died in a Mumbai hospital on Wednesday after brief illness, confirmed Mumbai Cricket Association sources.
He was 78 years old and is survived by his daughter.
"Recently, he fell in the bathroom and sustained a head injury after which he was admitted to Bombay Hospital. He slipped into coma and never recovered," an MCA source, who regularly tracked his health updates told PTI.
'I am deeply saddened by the passing of #SudhirNaik. He was my first captain when I played for Tatas. I learnt a lot while playing under him as a youngster. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace,' former India wicket-keeper Kiran More tweeted.
Naik was an immensely respected figure in the Mumbai cricket circles and a Ranji Trophy-winning captain when he led the team to blue riband glory in the 1970-71 season.
Naik's leadership was highly commended as Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy that season without stars like Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Sardesai, Ashok Mankad.
As irony would have it, when the 1972 Ranji season started, Naik was dropped from the playing XI as the main batters were back in the squad.
In 1974, he went on a fateful tour of England and made his debut in Birmingham Test where he got his only half-century --77 in the second innings in a losing cause.
He played 85 first class games and scored nearly 4500 runs(4376) at an average of 35 plus and seven hundred including a double ton.
He however suffered a lot as the BCCI in the 1970s was a very weak board in stature. It was filled with subservient creatures who didn't protest when he was wrongly accused of stealing two pairs of socks at a London departmental store.
In fact, Sunil Gavaskar had written in his book ‘Sunny Days’ that Naik shouldn't have pled guilty in front of the magistrate and should have been given a good lawyer to fight the false accusation that tarnished his reputation.
He was a tough character and just after that incident scored the gritty Test half-century. But in days of musical chair in Indian cricket, his international career didn't last beyond 1974.
Later, he played an active role as a coach and was a big influence in Zaheer Khan's career as he brought him to play cricket in Mumbai and provided him the requisite exposure.
He was also a chairman of Mumbai selection committee and worked as a curator of Wankhede Stadium free of cost.