Mohammad Azharuddin, The former team India captain and Member of Parliament from Moradabad, is all set to take over as the new coach of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).
The stylish former captain has accepted the job offered by the president of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA), Farooq Abdullah, although Azharuddin might not take the job on the full time basis because of his political engagements.
Abdullah, also a Union Minister, had several meetings with Azharuddin over last several months trying to convince him to accept the position. On Thursday Dr Farooq Abdullah confirmed that Azharuddin will be the new coach of the Jammu and Kashmir team.
"I have spoken to Azharuddin and he has accepted it [the offer]. He is willing to train our boys,” Mail Today quoted Abdullah as saying.
Both former and present cricketers in the state are happy about the development as they feel the former India captain's experience could well turn out to be a harbinger in Jammu and Kashmir cricket for some great
things to happen. Even the parents of the young cricketers are excited about Azharuddin being new coach of the team.
“I am personally happy that he will be coaching the young talent in Jammu and Kashmir. He is very experienced cricketer and could change the destiny of the cricketers in state.” Ghulam Rasool Zargar, father of India A team all-rounder Parvez Rasool, said.
Present and former cricketers alike have welcomed the appointment and viewed it as a big step in J&K cricket.
“Azharuddin was on our president’s radar for a long time but after his son died in a bike accident the president didn’t wish to disturb him at that point of time," Saleem Ahmed Khan, JKCA’s CAO said. "But now, as things seem to have settled, it was time to approach him."
Late on Thursday, when Firstpost contacted Azharuddin's secretary Mujeeb Khan, he said that although Azharuddin has been offered the post by JKCA no official paper work has been done.
“He was seriously considering the post, after JKCA president offered him the post," he told Firstpost.
The job of the coach was offered to the former captain after the former coach Bishan Singh Bedi resigned at the end of the last season, after couching the team for two years. After two years of controversy under the former coach, J&K cricket has swooped in a yet another big name to tutor their cricketers.
“Mr. Farooq Abdullah asked me if I can coach the Jammu and Kashmir team and I gave my nod,” Azharuddin told a Delhi based newspaper on Thursday.
Qayoom Bagow, who played with Azharuddin in Wills Trophy back in early 90s, says the appointment of Azharuddin’s will benefit young cricketers in Jammu and Kashmir. "His appointment could well turn out to be “masterstroke and the youngsters will benefit immensely from his cricketing skills.”
Many young players in the state hope Azharuddin brings in professionalism and a modern approach to the game.
“He has played 99 tests and more than 300 ODIs his appointment could help J&K cricket achieve bigger things in the future,” Samiullah Beigh, a player from the Jammu and Kashmir team said.
One of the India’s finest batsmen know for his unmatched wristy strokeplay on either side of the pitch, Azharuddin’s name to educate J&K batters was floated some eighteen months ago with Dr Farooq approaching the former skipper.
Azharuddin’s cricket career ended abruptly when the BCCI banned him for life for match fixing. However, the ban was overturned last year by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which could allow him to be part of the sport again.
However, the appointment is not without its hurdles. When Azharuddin's name first surfaced as a potential candidate, ESPNcrincfo quoted a BCCI official saying that Azharuddin cannot return to cricket in any role without the board's permission.