Grateful to BCCI for the cricket I played, says Azharuddin

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) As the Andhra Pradesh High Court Thursday overturned the life ban imposed on him by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin humbly said he was grateful to the board for whatever cricket he played.

Azharuddin said he always believed in the "almighty Allah" and his conscience was clear during his 12-year long battle to clear his name of the match-fixing charges.

"I am grateful to the Indian cricket board for whatever cricket I have played. It is all because of them. I had no complaints against the board during my playing career. I have got a lot in life from cricket," Azharuddin told reporters at his official residence here.

Azharuddin said he was never hurt with the BCCI's action. "I was never hurt with their action. That was their line of thinking. I can't blame them for that," he said.

Asked if he feels that the BCCI would not pursue the case any longer after Pakistan also went soft on Salim Malik, a former captain who too was banned for life, Azharuddin said: "It is tough to say. But I think it has been a good move to bring back the banned cricketers in the normal fold of life."

Malik's name also figured in the inquiry conducted by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that led to life bans on Azharuddin and Delhi cricketer Ajay Sharma.

Azharudding said he was looking forward to work with the BCCI to develop Indian cricket.

"I am open to working with the BCCI. But it is up to them," he said.

Azharuddin, now a Congress MP from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, said he played the game honestly and was a relieved man as the court struck down the BCCI's ban as "illegal". The BCCI Dec 5, 2000, banned Azharuddin and Delhi cricketer Ajay Sharma for life from playing professional cricket on charges of match-fixing.

"I have always played the game honestly and with command. Today I am a relieved man after what I have suffered for the last 12 years. I fought this battle for so long with patience. It has been a tough battle and I am grateful to everyone who has supported me during this difficult period."

As soon as the news broke out, Congress party workers and fans burst crackers at his residence near Lodhi Gardens. Amidst the huge media presence, party colleagues and friends came with bouquets to congratulate him. It was certainly early Diwali at C-1/12, Lodhi Garden.

But amidst the celebrations and cracker fire, Azharuddin remembered his younger son Ayazuddin, who died last year in a road accident.

"The last year has been very tough. Today I want to be happy with my elder son Abbas. I wish the judgment had come a bit early," he said.

Asked who all from the cricket fraternity supported him during the last 12 years, Azharuddin said: "I always got support from Raj Singh Dungarpur, Kapil paaji and Kamal Morarka."

When the BCCI banned him, Azharuddin was left stranded on 99 Tests.

Asked if he regrets not having completed 100 Test matches, Azharuddin said: "I think I was probably destined to play 99 Test matches, hence played that many. I believe what has to happen, will happen."

Azharuddin, however, regretted not having scored more than 22 Test centuries.

"I have 22 centuries. I think the way I started with three consecutive centuries, I should have got around 27-28 centuries. But I have no regrets. I led the team for nine years with success. That is how life is," he said.

The former India captain also thanked the Congress party for its support.

"I am grateful to the party for the support. Three years ago when I decided to join politics, they always believed in me. I didn't know abc of elections but the party stood by me during the tough time," he said.

Azharuddin had challenged the Indian cricket board's decision in the Hyderabad civil court, which upheld the ban. He then moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court against the lower court's order. His lawyers argued that the BCCI imposed the ban without any evidence.

Azharuddin, one of India's most successful captains, played 99 Tests and scored 6,215 runs during his career. He also played 334 One-Day Internationals scoring 9,378 runs in his 15-year international career.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to wait lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »