Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin today defended Anil Kumble's decision to quit as Indian cricket team's head coach, saying the legendary leg- spinner took the right call in the interest of his self-respect. Kumble had controversially quit two days after the Champions Trophy final loss against Pakistan in London in June, calling his partnership with captain Virat Kohli "untenable".
He was given an extension for the West Indies tour, but Kumble chose otherwise, marking a closure to his acrimonious episode as the head coach.
"I feel very sad for him. It is sad that something like this happened to Anil. Knowing Anil, I don't think he is that type of a person. Maybe he thought it is better to be away than losing your self-respect. I think he took the right decision," Azharuddin said.
The former skipper, who led India in three ODI World Cups -- 1992, 1996 and 1999 - was speaking to reporters at the pre-launch event of 3D mobile game Azhar- the Captain, by Hyderabad based firm BigCode Games.
Azharuddin also begs to differ with current head coach Ravi Shastri, who had recently said that Indian teams of past 20 years have not achieved as much as this current lot has.
"The Indian team in those days were different to the team now so it is unfair to compare. He (Shastri) was also part of the team in those days so he is also including himself. The bowlers were different, the opposition teams were different so it is difficult to compare between the two eras," he said.
Almost five years after the Andhra Pradesh High Court has quashed all charges of match-fixing against him, Azharuddin is yet to receive his pending from the BCCI.
Azharuddin's case came up for discussion today during a meeting between BCCI office-bearers and Committee of Administrators, where it decided to refer the matter to the Board's general body.
"My expectations are positive because I never think negative. The letter that I sent to the Board it has been put on the agenda of the meeting so that means they are serious about it. I am hoping this case is resolved at the earliest and we move ahead," Azharuddin said.
"I never had a problem with BCCI. Obviously, when I got the ban I had to defend myself, that is the only thing other than that there is nothing against the Board," said Azharuddin, who has been banned for life by the BCCI for his involvement in match-fixing.
Two days back, S Sreesanth's life ban was revoked by the Kerala High Court.
Asked about the case, Azharuddin said, "I think if the court order has come then they have to follow it. He has lost four years but Sreesanth will have to bring his fitness up to the required standards. He will have to put in good performances.
"According to me, Sreesanth was one of the finest fast bowlers but I think he was not handled properly. If he was handled better, he would have turned out to be a good fast bowler. If you see very few bowlers could manage to land the ball on the seam as he did, so he was very good."
"The BCCI will have to take a positive decision (on Sreesanth) if the court has given an order," he added.
Azharuddin also expressed his displeasure after he was barred from contesting the Hyderabad Cricket Association elections.
"Regarding the HCA elections, they could not stop me from contesting but they misled the lower court. The Lodha Committee recommendations clearly state that an election commissioner who has been in the same role in the past only can conduct the elections. If you don't have a person fulfilling the criteria in Hyderabad then you can call someone from outside to conduct the elections," he said.
"But they misled the lower court and did all wrong things. Like in the last meeting they said they have followed the Lodha Panel recommendations, but if they have followed it than 90 per cent of the people in the association will have to go.
"Even the HCA president will have to go because he has got a cabinet rank post in the TRS government. He is claiming that he doesn't get any salary but the fact of the matter is that it is a salaried post and it doesn't matter whether you take the salary or not. So if they have followed the Lodha recommendations as they are claiming, then they will have to first remove the president," he added.