Following a court verdict, which ruled the life ban against former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin as illegal, Azhar’s long-drawn battled against the BCCI is finally over. As per the court order, the ban imposed on the former India leader was unfair, since the Indian cricket board did not have enough proof to take stringent action against Azhar, yet they banned him for life. In the wake of the court order, the question that now arises is whether the cricketer-turned-MP was indeed targeted unfairly by the Indian cricket board. If there was no proof against Azhar, did they just ban him to prove that they were taking action against corruption? In short, was he made a scapegoat in the whole match-fixing fiasco?
Azhar will turn 50 early next year, so the lifting of the ban actually doesn’t mean anything to him in terms of his playing career, which was over long back. At the same time, however, the decision has come as a huge sigh of relief for Azhar, and definitely will speed up his redemption since he now cannot be seen as a pariah in Indian cricket. After all, the law itself has given the man a clean chit. Credit to the former cricket, who was once the apple of all eyes, for fighting for resurrection, and eventually winning the seemingly never-ending battle.
While Azhar can now rejoice, the court verdict should without doubt serve as an eye opener for the Indian cricket board; they’ll need to think hard before banning another cricketer for fixing again. It is one thing taking a stand against corruption, and a totally different one making an arbitrary decision keeping the sentiment of the occasion in mind. At a time when Hansie Cronje named Azhar as the one who introduced him to bookies, there were shockwaves around the cricketing world, and everyone from the cricket fan to the administrator to the sport’s governing body sought prompt action. The BCCI did the same, but going by the court’s verdict, they weren’t fair in their trail
Having said that, while the court stated that Azhar was unfairly banned, it also did not rule that the 49-year-old was innocent. Azhar was absolved only on the basis of lack of evidence. Only the man in question will know the real truth. But, since the court has ruled in his favour, it is only fair that we give the ‘Destiny’s Child’ a second chance, and bring him back into the Indian cricket fold again, provided he is interested in contributing in any manner.
--By A Cricket Analyst