“There are only three things on my mind right now – cricket, cricket, cricket,” Mohammad Azharuddin said after becoming the new Hyderabad Cricket Association president on Friday with a landslide victory, in which his team swept all six apex council seats on offer.
The former India captain and member of parliament was not allowed to contest for the president’s post in January 2017 as his nomination papers were not accepted by the election officers, who were unsure about Azharuddin’s status because of the BCCI life ban that was imposed on him in 2000 for match-fixing (struck down by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012). This time, there was no stopping him.
“We will have to restructure everything and turn things around,” Azharuddin told the Deccan Chronicle newspaper. “Look at the state of Gymkhana ground, it’s left for the cows to graze. We need to get to the grassroots and unearth talent now.
“The members have done their job, mine starts now. I know it won’t be easy but I will give my best to revive the game which has suffered a lot in the last three years. We will seek support from all the club secretaries and take the game forward. Their suggestions as well as those of cricket enthusiasts will be more than welcome.”
Azharuddin had no involvement in cricket-related matters after the life ban and became a politician in 2009. His initial attempts of challenging the ban were unsuccessful but in 2012, a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court ruled the BCCI ban illegal.
“Just a bit,” he said when asked if he was as nervous getting into cricket administration as he was when making his Test debut. “Back then I had worked very hard for close to 15 years to get into the Indian team and was very nervous when I played my first Test. Here, we worked as a team and campaigned hard and knew the result straightaway.
“There are tense moments in any election, as I know anything can happen – having contested two general elections – but I was confident I would win this one. It’s a big victory though.
Looking ahead in his new avatar, Azharuddin said, “I am really looking forward to BCCI meetings because I have so much to offer, having played the game for quite a while. I have represented the BCCI on teams but now to deal with the board as an administrator will be different – this should be much easier than playing.”