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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Azharuddin's inclusion in Indian team causes embarrassment in Toronto

Azharuddin's inclusion in Indian team causes embarrassment in Toronto

October 26, 2006 10:32 IST
Former cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin was to lead an Indian team at the Legends of Cricket one-day tournament between India and Pakistan at Toronto's Rogers Center, starting March 3.

Now that Ben Sennik, Canadian Cricket Association president, has learned that the International Cricket Council's life ban on Azharuddin has not been lifted, the CCA can no longer endorse him.

Ajay Jadeja, who was also in the Indian team, also faces the same treatment because the investigation that indicted Azharuddin had given him a five-year suspension from the game.

"I was under the impression that the ban has been lifted," Sennik said. There is no way the CCA would endorse a player whose status is suspect: The status "has to be clear and up front. I don't have time to be going around and checking up on everyone," he said.

Melvin John, the managing director of M+D Corporation, which is organising the event, said he had no choice but to drop Azharuddin from India's players.

The revelations came after most reporters had left the media briefing at the Rogers Center last week.

John said given that the organisers needed the CCA's partnership, they had to do everything as instructed. Replacements would be found for Azharuddin and Jadeja in a few weeks, he said.

The majority benefactors from the sale of tickets from this event will be Canada's Heart and Stroke Foundation; the CCA will receive 30 percent of the money raised. At the media briefing, Sennik said Canada now has about 50,000 registered and unregistered cricket players. About six million Canadians understood and followed the game, he added.

With hundreds of thousands of people migrating from India and Canada, cricket is becoming much more popular now, said City of North York Police Chief Armand La Barge, a cricket lover who greeted the predominantly South Asian group of journalists in flawless Hindi and Urdu.

Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle was often termed the 'Minister of Cricket,' said emcee Atul Ahuja. Colle was instrumental in inducing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and his cabinet colleagues to allocate $1 million to the Ontario Cricket Association to develop cricket.

Canada has qualified for the World Cup and is placed in Group C, with Kenya, England, and New Zealand. Their games begin March 13 in St Lucia. Sennik was proud that the Canadian team has qualified for the World Cup for the third time -– first in 1979, then in 2003.

Sennik was the key organiser of the first serious cricket match in Canada in 1989 between the West Indies and a team that included many world players, including those from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At that event, they raised $800,000 for the United Way charity. The matches were held the next year and the year after that.

After a gap of a few more years, matches began being organised at the Cricket and Curling Club of Toronto between India and Pakistan -- the Sahara Cup. The games were discontinued after three years when Pakistan invaded Kargil in July 1999 and the Indian government decided that their team should not play in Toronto.

The Legends of Cricket event is a three-day affair, with cultural programmes and festivities a day before and day after cricket, Ahuja said.

The event will include a workshop sponsored by the Royal Cricket Cup where players will meet and greet fans a day before the big game. This would give fans the opportunity to learn the techniques of the pros and work on autographs and photographs.

John is hoping that 'the Legends of Cricket' will become an annual event.

INDIA: Dilip Vengsarkar, Venkatesh Prasad, Vinod Kambli, Rohan Gavaskar, Venkatapathy Raju, Atul Wassan, Sandeep Patil, Javagal Srinath, Sunil Joshi, Madan Lal and two as yet unnamed players. The captain will be named later. Udhouram Sharma is the team manager.

PAKISTAN: Wasim Akram (Captain), Shoaib Mohammed, Waqar Yunus, Tauseef Ahmed, Ijaz Ahmed, Mohsin Kamal, Saeed Anwar, Salim Jaffar, Moin Khan, Rashid Khan and one as yet unnamed player. Mudassar Nazar is the team manager.

Ajit Jain in Toronto