| Azhar: Fresh lease of life'
Calcutta: Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin’s exile from cricket is expected to be over in the immediate future. The Cricket Club of India (CCI) is planning to call the Hyderabad batsman to coach trainees at its academy in December.
Azhar has been banned for life by the BCCI for being involved in match-fixing.
“We are going to approach him to look after our boys,” CCI chief Raj Singh Dungarpur told The Telegraph Thursday — Day II of the on-going India-West Indies Test.
“He was one of the best batsmen in the world and I’m sure it’ll be a big boost for the boys,” said the former BCCI president. Details of the deal are yet to be worked out.
“My heart bleeds to find Azhar away from the game. He played 99 Tests and it’s so sad to see him short of the memorable 100 mark,” Dungarpur said.
The veteran administrator added he has always taken up Azhar’s cause and will continue to do so. “But this Indian team is so set that it’s hard to replace anyone.”
Woolmer for coaches
Dungarpur also informed that former South Africa coach Bob Woolmer will come to Mumbai next year to train some of the CCI coaches. “He was the man who made the South Africans what they are today.”
Dungarpur said he will get in touch with BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya so that Woolmer can interact with coaches from all over the country.
He is hopeful about the future of the newly-formed Indian Cricket Players’ Association (ICPA). “These boys are a sensible lot and they are ready to stand by each other.”
Dungarpur said he was quite close to most members of the cricketers’ association formed in the late 1980s. “But the problem with that association was that it had too many stars. Also, regional bias had crept in which led to the association’s untimely death.”
He feels in the present association, the four big guns — Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid — will always get the support of the younger players.
Asked whether he will take up the issue of the association’s affiliation with the BCCI, Dungarpur said: “If I’m convinced with the working of the association, I’ll definitely do so.”
He also said that the CCI will form a foundation for the benefit of former cricketers. “We’ll have Sachin, Sourav, Rahul and Kumble as the trustees. The CCI will try to provide financial assistance to downtrodden players from all over the country.”
However, Dungarpur seemed disappointed with the functioning of the National Cricket Academy — known to be his brainchild. “The working of the Academy seems to be disjointed and many talented players are not getting proper exposure,” said the former director of the Academy.
Dungarpur felt that the present Indian team is better than the one that won the World Cup in 1983. “Sourav is such an inspirational captain and he has so many match-winners at his disposal. Moreover, the team is supremely fit.”
However, he seemed a bit unhappy with the lead-up to the World Cup.
“West Indies and New Zealand are softer teams. Also, the South African conditions are so drastically different. That can be a bit of a worry.”