Mumbai, May 22: It seems the tainted former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin is determined to make a foray back into cricket. Never mind that Azhar has been slapped with a life-ban for match-fixing: he is now eying the post of coach of the national team! Indeed, he has recently made a public statement that he would be keen to assume the coveted position sometime in the future. Talk about being ambitious!
Perhaps, this would be his way of bringing his cricketing career full circle and atone for his wrong doings. But one wonders, given his dark past, will he be a coach of cricket... or betting and match-rigging? It would require a giant leap of faith for the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) to completely condone his nefarious, underhand doings when he was captain of the team in the 1990s.
Back then, he got into bad company, rubbing shoulders and as the CBI accused him of in a report released in 2000, cracking deals, with notorious bookmaker Mukesh Gupta. Azhar had himself admitted to fixing three one-day matches at this man's request.
As though such actions were not bad enough, he helped Gupta expand his circle of influence, even going on to introduce him to the likes of the disgraced, late former South African captain Hansie Cronje (as Cronje mentioned in his confession after being reprimanded for fixing two matches in India).
Oddly enough, Azhar already appears to have been forgiven by the public at large. How else would he has won a seat at the Lok Sabha as candidate of the Indian National Congress, a seat he contested from Moradabad in UP in the 2009 General Assembly?
And as though that development was not unsettling enough, the BCCI had three years prior lifted the ban on him and even felicitated him as a former Indian Test captain during the Champions Trophy. However, the ICC remains adamant that it alone has the authority to reinstate him and so technically, his life ban remains intact.
Apart from all the blights on his career, Azhar certainly has the credentials to coach a top Indian side. He was hailed as one of the most fluid and wristy batsman of his day. Statistically, he proved to be one of India's most successful captains, leading his side to 103 ODI wins and 14 Tests (a feat surpassed by only Sourav Ganguly).
So it remains to be seen whether his virtues as a "player" will eventually overshadow and outstrip his vices. Only in India can a tarnished phoenix that's fallen from grace return from the ashes and begin another rise to glory. Ask Sanjay Dutt...