Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin on Friday was elected the president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association in an event held at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here in Hyderabad. Azharuddin who has been previously embroiled in the match-fixing controversy in the early 2000s has been made President of an important state board and this, if nothing, proves that BCCI is really going down the drain when it comes to cricket administration. He was found guilty of fixing matches with both ICC and BCCI banning him for life, back in December 5th, 2000. Hansie Cronje, the South African captain who had fixed matches had taken Azharuudin’s name in his testimony where he said that it was the Indian captain who made him meet the bookies. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which conducted the investigation stated in a report that “The evidence against Azharuddin clearly establishes the fact that he took money from bookies/punters to fix cricket matches and also the fact that the ‘underworld’ had approached him to fix matches for them.” Azharuddin was undoubtedly the “kingpin” of match-fixing in India, with “a criminal bent of mind”, and was considered a “Bhai” by dons like Anees Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, and Sharad Shetty.
Mere weeks before the match-fixing scandal was exposed, a Mumbai businessman named Ashraf Patel was gunned down outside his home, just two days after being seen with Azhar. When questioned by the CBI, Azharuddin claimed Patel had no “involvement with cricket”, but the Mumbai Police suspected otherwise, with an officer saying, “Patel was gunned down because he knew too much about betting deals and match-fixing involving some prominent cricketers and influential persons in Mumbai. He could have been silenced to destroy evidence.” according to a report by Huffington Post. Though the Andhra High Court lifted his ban in 2012, sources have said the judges did not really absolve him of the charges and that it proved that he indeed was involved in match-fixing and sold out his country just for a few quick bucks.
The announcement of a Cricketer with a tainted career like Azharuddin being appointed as the President of Hyderabad Cricket Association came as a shocker to many and people took to Twitter to express their disappointment.
— Pradeep Magazine (@pradeepmagazine) September 27, 2019
Emran Hashmi’s hagiographic movie “Azhar” desperately tried to paint Azharuddin as the victim who was helpless and took one for the team made him more-so the culprit who was taking the help of morally-corrupt Bollywood to set his story-straight. During the promotions of ‘Azhar’, the cricketer-turned-match fixer was asked a controversial question by the reporter of a national news channel on his match-fixing scandal. In reply, he simply stormed off the promotional event, leaving the anchor of the show dumbstruck. It’s a shame that a man who threw away India’s games for money is an administrator now and can wield more power and spoil the fan-favorite game of cricket. Despite having failed as an administrator way back in 2009 when he was elected as the MP of Moradabad on a Congress ticket, it is beyond any comprehension how Azharuddin will be able to handle the cricketing affairs of the state of Hyderabad.
Azharuddin led India unsuccessfully in three consecutive world cups in 1992, 1996 & 1999 and his stint was marred by reports of rampant factionalism, continuous clashes, and poor organisation in the dressing-room culture. After the initial flurry of investigative journalism leading up to and following the match-fixing scandal of the early 2000s, for the last two decades, silence of the media, BCCI and cricketing community in this country allowed Azhar to do all the talking, and shape public opinion of himself with little to no challenge and that is the reason why he has made his way through the ranks. If only BCCI would encourage the real legends of game-like VVS Laxman who himself hails from Hyderabad or Rahul Dravid or Javagal Srinath or the countless other cricketers who gave their heart and soul for their country while on the pitch, instead of dragging them through the muddle of “conflict of interest”.