Azhar takes fresh guard
HYDERABAD: Almost two decades after his cricket career came to an unceremonious end, former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin commenced his second innings on Friday.
Cries of “Azhar!! Azhar!!” echoed around at the Hyderabad Cricket Association, when the counting of votes began. Winning 147 of 226 votes, the 56-year-old became the president of the troubled state body. Icing on the cake was the fact that the 99-Test veteran’s panel swept all the six seats for which elections were held.
The six will constitute the Apex Council of HCA.
Life came full circle for the former batsman, whose nomination for the top post was rejected during the last elections in January, 2017.
“I never thought I would become the president of HCA when I was playing. So this is a pleasant surprise. Each election has its tense moments and you can never be too sure about the result, but I was confident. I am really happy that I will be able to do something for Hyderabad cricket. I fought two general elections. So, it was kind of small in comparison to that. We have a full panel now. That will help us in working together and taking important decisions,” Azhar said after his election was confirmed by electoral officer VS Sampath.
The only other faction standing in Azhar’s way was former HCA president G Vivekanand’s. Though the latter’s nomination was rejected by Sampath, he still had strong contestants on his side, such as Prakashchand Jain, who received 73 votes for the top post.
Azhar will have his task cut out from the word go. Besides being severely short on funds, the HCA has not been able to churn out talented players like it did in the past. Other than Mohammed Siraj and veteran Ambati Rayudu, there is no one even close to being called to the national dressing room. The Hyderabad Cricket Academy of Excellence (HCAE), which had benefited scores of Hyderabad players, has been non-operational for more than two years.
The leagues — the platform from where players start getting noticed — have not been orgainsed properly for years. Asked what he wants to achieve in his new role, Azhar said: “To revive the game will be the biggest challenge. The game has suffered a lot in the last three to four years. There is such little representation from Hyderabad in IPL. Once we take stock of the situation, we will get to know the real picture. At this moment if you ask me, there are three things I would like to do for the association. Cricket, cricket and cricket. We will have to restructure everything. There are things that require a big turnaround. We need to bring about some sweeping changes. Just look at the Gymkhana ground. It looks less like a cricket field and more like a grazing field for cows. Nothing has happened over the last three years. There are no proper academies. If you want to unearth talent, you need to have those.”