Mohammad Azharuddin has filed his nomination for the post of president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. © Getty Images

Mohammad Azharuddin has filed his nomination for the post of president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. © Getty Images

Mohammad Azharuddin, the former India captain, filed his nomination for the post of president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association on Tuesday (January 10). The elections are to be held on January 17, as per orders from a lower court in Hyderabad.

Azhar, 53, who had announced a month ago that he would fight for the top position in HCA, has also filed his papers for the post of secretary.

“The Supreme Court has started the process of cleaning up the game and I feel it’s the right time to do something for the improvement of cricket,” he said, after filing his nomination from the National Cricket Club (NCC).

“Hyderabad cricket has suffered a lot in the last two decades. At one point in time, we had seven players in the Indian team. Now we are struggling to find a single player to don the Indian jersey.”

Azhar played 99 Tests and scored 6215 runs at an average of 45. He also had 9378 from 334 One-Day Internationals. He was banned by the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) for match-fixing in December 2000, but was acquitted by a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012. The BCCI did not challenge the verdict in a higher court.

“I don’t want to name anyone, but unfortunately things haven’t been too well with Hyderabad cricket. Wherever I go, I am asked about the prevailing state of affairs,” he said. “I feel embarrassed when people point out all the wrong things that are happening here. I don’t want to dwell on the past, but am looking forward to serving the game if given an opportunity.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Azhar blamed the current HCA administration for the fall from grace. HCA officials were implicated of mismanagement of funds and irregularities in functioning following an audit by a BCCI-appointed party.

Arshad Ayub, who was president of the HCA but is ineligible to hold office under the new Lodha panel rules, having completed the cumulative period of nine years as an elected office-bearer, said Azhar doesn’t fulfil the eligibility criteria.

“Yes, Azhar has filed his nomination before the returning officer, but the HCA hasn’t received any confirmation from the BCCI saying that his life ban is lifted,” said Ayub, the former India offspinner and Azhar’s former teammate. “I think he needs BCCI clearance for his nomination to be accepted. Also, a by-law of the HCA constitution says that to contest for the post of president, one has to serve at least one term as an executive council member and another term as an office-bearer. Azhar doesn’t fulfil that either.”

But as per the Lodha panel recommendations, Azhar is eligible to contest for the post.

John Manoj, the HCA secretary, went so far as to call the entire election process a sham. “The order passed by the V Additional Districts & Sessions Judge, Ranga Reddy District, in appointing an Advocate Commissioner to conduct the elections to the Hyderabad Cricket Association, appears to be in contravention of the Supreme Court judgement. Prakash Chand Jain filed a vakalatnama on behalf of the HCA illegally and unlawfully and given his consent wrongly for conducting the elections,” said Manoj.

Manoj has filed a review petition in High Court, which will come up for hearing on Wednesday. Asked why some members of the ruling dispensation have also filed their nomination, the HCA secretary said it was to ensure the process didn’t turn out to be a unanimous affair.