Azhar, and the price of forgiveness

At 49, most sensible people have accepted that Azhar's cricket days are behind him, and it appears that so has the man himself.

updated: February 13, 2013 11:23 IST
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Something unusual happened in London last week. At the Members' Dining Room of the House of Commons in the British Parliament, the seventh annual 'Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards' ceremony was held. Typically, the award honours people who have had an impact on the Asian community, especially Indians, in the United Kingdom. One of the recipients of the award was an Indian Member of Parliament from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. It would be fair to say he was given the award not for the four years he has spent as a politician, but for the 99 Test matches and 334 One-Day Internationals Mohammad Azharuddin played between 1985 and 2000.

"Though I had a long innings in cricket, in politics it is just four years. This is one of the best awards I have received," Azharuddin said in a typically spare acceptance speech. Soon after, when speaking to members of the media, some of whom were clearly still in awe of his cricketing achievements, Azhar went one step further. "Whatever little cricket I have played, I have learnt a lot and I would like to impart those skills to young players. It is up to the board (BCCI) to use me in the best way. I would certainly like to be involved with Indian cricket," he said when asked if he might want to coach the Indian team at some point in the future.

Azhar, it's worth pointing out, received a lifetime ban for match-fixing which left him one match short of the century mark in Test cricket. Nearly 12 years later, a court in Andhra Pradesh held the action by the Board of Control for Cricket in India "illegal" and "unsustainable" and set aside the ban. Since then, Azhar has been careful not to attack the BCCI over the 12 years of his life in which he was always referred to as "the disgraced former Indian cricketer", and the BCCI has been working behind the scenes to see if it would be judicially viable to challenge the latest ruling.

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