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ICC irked by BCCI's decision to honour Azhar

"The ICC has a zero tolerance zone to corruption and we'd like our members to have a similar zero tolerance in this matter," ICC said.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2006 16:31 IST
Sandeep Nakai (AP)
Sandeep Nakai (AP)

Indian cricket officials say they are unmoved by the International Cricket Council's disapproval of its decision to honor disgraced former captain Mohammed Azharuddin during an official ceremony next month.

Azharuddin is included among a host of high profile players and officials who will be feted for their service to Indian cricket at a ceremony to be attended by the sport's top international officials. Azharuddin, who led India at three World Cups, was banned in 2000 for conspiring with illegal bookmakers to fix cricket matches and player performances.

"The ICC has a zero tolerance zone to corruption and we'd like our members to have a similar zero tolerance in this matter," ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd said on Friday.

Murgatroyd said the national boards should avoid allowing the game to be dragged into the controversy that brought it disrepute six years ago.

"But it's not for us to dictate anything to the Indian board, or anyone else," Murgatroyd said. "It's not our function, it's a ceremony being organized by the Indian cricket board which can invite whom they want."

The Indian board said it wasn't looking for advice on the guest list.

"Of course, we've invited Azharuddin and he will be felicitated at the ceremony along with other Indian captains," Board of Control for Cricket secretary Niranjan Shah said.

Shah said does not see anything wrong with honoring Azharuddin for his contribution to Indian cricket, even though the board has banned him for life from all cricket activities, including playing, coaching or assuming an official position.

The Indian board function will take place on November 4 in the western city of Mumbai, on the eve Champions Trophy final and one day after the ICC stages its annual awards ceremony in the same city.

Azharuddin and teammate Ajay Sharma were banned for life after a cricket board inquiry found them guilty of match fixing. Two other players _ Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar _ were suspended for five years.

Azharuddin has mounted a legal challenge against his life ban. Azharuddin made a brief return to the cricket fraternity two years ago to commentate on a limited-overs international series in Sri Lanka, which evoked an angry response from the ICC. The then-ICC president Ehsan Mani said there was "no position in the game for a player who has been banned."

The Indian board's ceremony will mark the inauguration of its new headquarters, and Shah said is would be attended by the world's top cricket officials, beside those representing India's own state associations.

"We've also sent invitations to the ICC officials, including its president Percy Sonn and chief executive Malcolm Speed," Shah said. The ICC hasn't confirmed if its officials will attend the function.

"I don't know if we've been invited," Murgatroyd said, even as Azharuddin himself appeared noncommittal about attending the ceremony.

"Let me get the invite," Azharuddin was quoted as saying Friday in Daily News and Analysis newspaper.

Azharuddin said he did not want a repeat of the incident when he was invited to an awards ceremony in 2002 to pick the best Indian player of the last century, only for the invitation to be withdrawn later.

"I don't want to be embarrassed and humiliated like what happened to me after being called ... and then dropped," Azharuddin said.

First Published: Oct 13, 2006 13:43 IST