Since his life ban was lifted by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, former cricketer and present Congress MP from Moradabad, Mohammed Azharuddin has been itching to get back to the mainstream of international cricket. He may well get that chance, thanks to the departure of former Indian spinner Bishan Singh Bedi from the post of Jammu and Kashmir coach. With this post being vacated the state cricket association officials have approached Azharuddin for the same. A personal request in this regard has been made by Farooq Abdullah who is a well known and senior politician himself as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association President.
The BCCI had previously sentenced Azharuddin to a life ban owing to his supposed involvement in the match fixing scandal during the later part of 90s as well as in 2000. It is believed that he is ready to take up the post. However, his secretary, Mujeeb Khan, had a completely different take on the matter. When the media contacted him he acknowledged the fact that Azhar had been asked by the JKCA but he has not come to any decision regarding the same. However, the official has stated that the former Indian captain was pretty serious as far as returning to the cricketing fraternity in the country is concerned.
Farooq Abdullah, too, has revealed that he indeed offered the job to Azharuddin. He has confirmed that there have been some talks at the initial level and also expressed some level of interest. However, the association is presently looking at the various areas involved with the whole procedure and will take a final call after that phase gets over. With the resignation of Bedi the sports body is on the lookout for someone who will be able to show the inexperienced team the right direction. Once the whole issue is sorted out Azhar will be given the responsibility of training the young players. However, it is not as easy as it appears to be.
There could be some legal complications should JKCA actually ink a deal with the former cricketer. According to sources within the BCCI the governing body of Indian cricket has already lodged an appeal against the lifting of Azhar’s ban. Azhar may not be appointed anytime soon since the matter may be still in court. Even if he were to ultimately take over as the coach he will be required to get a no objection certificate from the governing body of Indian cricket. However, that may be easier said than done.
It has also been claimed that he was asked for his coaching services by several other state associations in India as well like the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA). However, KK Sharma, the officiating secretary of the RCA has negated such statements saying that Pradip Sunderram has already been chosen as the coach which meant there was no scope of asking Azhar to operate as a coach.
Going by the proceedings it seems highly unlikely that Azhar will be allowed to breathe easily by the BCCI. After all he was not invited in a recent parade of former Indian players at the Eden Gardens, which is almost regarded as his second home after Hyderabad. He may not have been the best captain to have led the national team but he was successful and helped India create a lasting legacy at home. He was also one of the finest batsmen and fielders of his time – one whose experience is perhaps second to not many in world of cricket. He may have also been involved in betting and match fixing. However, he has been in the sidelines for too long and it is time that BCCI allows him to make some positive contributions to Indian cricket and right, some wrongs he may or may not have done.