Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin will stand for the president's post of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. On December 22, a lower court in Hyderabad ordered the HCA elections to take place on January 17.
Azharuddin, who filed the nomination papers representing the National Cricket Club on Tuesday morning, said Hyderabad cricket was in the "doldrums" and his aim was to develop a flourishing cricket structure that would produce and retain talent. "I want to serve Hyderabad cricket. It is in doldrums now despite the team making it to the Ranji Trophy semi-finals this year," Azharuddin told the Hindu. "The fact of the matter is that there is no development of the game and there are corruption issues in the HCA. I want to ensure that cricket flourishes in Telangana."
Azharuddin played 99 Tests and scored 6215 runs at an average of 45. He also played 334 ODIs and struck 9378 runs at 36.92 in a career spanning 15 years.
Cricket in Hyderabad had taken a backseat with the HCA embroiled in corruption controversies. Deloitte, appointed by the BCCI to carry out an audit of all state associations, presented a diligence report last year and implicated HCA of mismanagement of funds and revealed irregularities and anomalies in the functioning and decision-making.
Azharuddin, blamed the current HCA administration, which was headed by his former Hyderabad and India team-mate Arshad Ayub, for the issues with Hyderabad cricket. "I have heard stories of nepotism and corruption in selection. In the under-14, six new players are added to the team after every match. This is shocking.
"Hyderabad lost two very good players to Andhra [Hanuman Vihari] and one went to Bengal [Pragyan Ojha]. How could the HCA allow them to go and play for other states. Cricket sadly has taken a backseat and that is what I want to change," Azharuddin said.
Ayub, having served for more than nine years as HCA office bearer, had to step down as president after the Supreme Court order on January 2. But Ayub said there was confusion over whether Azharuddin could be eligible to run for the president's post. "As per HCA constitution, Azhar cannot file directly for the president's post. Firstly he has to file for the executive committee. Once he serves there he has to become an office bearer. Then only he can put in his nomination for the president's post," Ayub told ESPNcricinfo.
Ayub also said he was uncertain about how the HCA could conduct elections as the Supreme Court was yet to appoint the panel of administrators that would supervise the BCCI. The Supreme Court is expected to do so on January 19. Ayub said although the HCA had told the Lodha Committee that it would implement all the recommendations, the HCA constitution had not yet been amended. "As per our rules we have to conduct two emergent general body meetings to approve the amended constitution. In the first EGM we had decided to adopt the recommendations."
In the second EGM, which has not yet taken place, the HCA is supposed to insert the various clauses from the Lodha Report into its constitution and then approve it.
The HCA was also keen to know from the BCCI whether the life ban imposed on Azharuddin for his involvement in match-fixing had been lifted. It is understood that the HCA secretary John Manoj has raised these points in e-mails to the Lodha Committee, which has not yet been responded to.
After the 2000 match-fixing investigation conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation found Azharuddin and three others guilty of fixing matches, the BCCI's disciplinary committee, led by the then board president AC Muthiah, banned him for life on December 5, 2000. According to the CBI, Azharuddin had admitted to accepting large sums of money from Mukesh Gupta, a bookmaker, to under-perform in two matches.
Azharuddin, who subsequently moved to politics, challenged the ban but his initial attempts failed. Then, in 2012, a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court ruled the BCCI ban illegal.
Azharuddin, though, said the BCCI ban could not rule him out of the HCA elections. "I don't think the BCCI ban on me can be an issue in my contesting for a post in HCA. It may be recalled here that the Andhra Pradesh High Court has set aside the ban four years ago. So, I don't foresee any issue in this regard," Azharuddin said after filing his nomination papers.