Last October, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) served a notice to the Delhi unit for inviting former skipper Mohammad Azharuddin to the Feroz Shah Kotla during a Ranji Trophy match.
DDCA vice-president and former India opener Chetan Chauhan was pulled up as Azhar, who was banned by the Board in 2000 after being found guilty for match-fixing, accompanied him and sat close to the boundary, even interacting with some of the players.
A year on, the BCCI has done a flip-flop, felicitating him as India began their 500th Test at the Green Park on Thursday.
Azhar was among the former India Test skippers honoured. Sachin Tendulkar, who played in 200 out of those 500 Tests, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, MS Dhoni and Ravi Shastri were all there.
Senior BCCI and Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association administrator Rajeev Shukla had a few days back defended the move, saying Azhar has been an India captain and therefore can’t be ignored.
There could only be speculation over the vibes in the enclosure where the former captains had gathered. There is a history of friction between Azhar and some of the others.
The movie ‘Azhar’, a biopic on his career and fall from grace released earlier this year, had tried to portray him in a different light while mocking some of his former teammates.
Azhar has a special connect with Green Park. It was at this ground that he scored the last of his three successive centuries in his first three Tests, a feat which has not been emulated. Besides, he also got his highest Test score of 199 in Kanpur.
In fact, after the 2012 order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that termed the ban on Azharuddin as illegal, the BCCI has been left undecided over his status, although it has not exonerated him.
However, BCCI president Anurag Thakur, when recently asked about the invitation to Azhar, said when the court has cleared him, what can the BCCI be expected to do.
A senior official defended the move saying that during the Ranji match last year, he sat near the boundary and interacted with the players, which isn’t allowed. “There was no such issue here,” he added.
But with the clean-up act going on in the BCCI following the Lodha committee recommendation and the Supreme Court observations, it remains to be seen how things pan out vis-a-vis one of India’s best known cricketers to be banned for fixing.