Hyderabad: After scoring 15,593 runs in international cricket, former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin is gearing up for another run, off the field. He is all set to contest as President at the Hyderabad Cricket Association elections, which will most likely be held in the second week of September.
“I am in the running, 100 per cent,” the 56-year-old fitness freak told this newspaper on Thursday, adding “There are a lot of things that need to be cleaned up here.”
The HCA’s Annual General Meeting is scheduled this Sunday where the poll ball could roll into motion as the BCCI wants election to State bodies under the new constitution inspired by Lodha reforms to be conducted by September 14.
Azhar is supremely confident though and says he has the support of a majority of the 211 clubs that comprise the HCA. “The Club secretaries are very happy with the way things are going as of now. I have already spoken to many of them, who have promised me their support,” he said.
“But I told them I want their inputs as well, that they are as responsible as the office-bearers when it comes to developing the game and that their job was not just to vote during elections. They know the actual problems because they run the teams that play in the local leagues which are nurseries of talent. Everyone should step up and contribute to the growth of cricket in Hyderabad,” Azhar added.
“We need to improve the game. It has been so many years since Hyderabad has been neglected at the national level. Someone needs to stand up to this and do something about it. I am more than willing to,” he promised.
Azhar said he was particularly peeved at players from Hyderabad not being picked at IPL. “I was very disappointed to see not a single player from Hyderabad in Sunrisers Hyderabad (the city’s IPL team). It belies the side and is just not right… and nobody from the Association did anything about it. Somebody should have raised their voice against this injustice. Was there not even one player not deserving to make the team? I just cannot digest that fact,” he bristled.
“We need to promote the players as much as we promote the game and get the Hyderabad flag flying high,” he added.
Owing allegiance to the City, the former batsman said: “Hyderabad has always been in my heart and ever close to me... it has given me everything. During my days I got plenty of offers to play for different States but I never took them up even as many others did. If I can do anything for my own State, I would be very happy. That is my sole intention,” Azhar vowed.
Azhar’s nomination for president was not accepted in the 2017 HCA elections on the ground that he could not produce proof of BCCI lifting the ban imposed on him for his alleged involvement in match-fixing in 2000. An annoyed Azhar feels he was done in by conspirators. “They (election officials) played foul. They wrote to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri seeking clarification on my eligibility to contest the polls. Johri replied to them saying I could run for election but they held that letter back and deprived me of a chance to contest,” he said.
“The case is clearly in my favour. The High Court has delivered the judgement and no Association or Board is bigger than the Court. People have been giving lame excuses saying they need to get my candidature cleared by the BCCI but I don’t need any permission from the Board, which has said that it’s order does not supersede the order of the Court which is in existence now,” Azhar added.
“Post the High Court ruling when I asked BCCI to give me a letter with regard to the status of my ban, they said there is no rule to that effect. Once the High Court order comes into play, it is self-explanatory, there’s nothing more to be said,” Azhar explained.
The BCCI’s ban on Azhar was set aside by the High Court back in 2012. “It’s been seven years now and the Board has not contested that order, which clearly says that I can be part of the BCCI, ICC and all my funds should be given to me. Since there has been no appeal, the Court order has become a finality now and those talking against it would be well-advised not to lest they attract charges, which I can press but don’t want to, because I simply want to contribute to cricket and help the boys become better players,” he concluded.