Cricketer-politicians at various levels

We are generally aware of international cricketers who have been in Parliament. In recent years, there have been Kirti Azad, M Azharuddin, CPS Chauhan and now Gautam Gambhir. For non-international cricketers there are:

Ashwini Minna (FC player for Punjab), who was a potential Test player in the mid-70s and was tried out against various touring teams.

Ultimately he became a journalist, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who had fallen to assassin’s bullets:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/31556.html

He did play some role in the struggle against terrorism in Punjab. And later became a BJP MP from  Karnal (Haryana) in 2014-19. He died earlier this year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashwini_Kumar_Chopra

Then there is the slightly better-known Laxmi Rattan Shukla, who played in a handful of ODIs in the late 1990s:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/34019.html

He became a TMC MLA in 2016 and is currently West Bengal’s Minister of state  for youth services and sports: http://wbcmo.gov.in/ministers.aspx

(Look around the middle of the list of Ministers of State.)

The last example may be somewhat unexpected. See this clipping from a Hyderabad paper of around 1990:

Asad Owaisi final

Asad Owaisi took 6-79 against Bangalore U.

Look more closely at this clipping:

Asad Owaisi and Prasad

You can see that Venkatesh Prasad, opening bowler of the opposing team, did not do well in this match. Anyway he was to play for India later in the 90s.

Further details of Asad Owaisi’s cricket career are not readily available as he did not play in first-class and List A matches. Some details are mentioned here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asaduddin_Owaisi

(Thanks to Abhijit Sen Gupta for the Hyderabad material).

 

Man of the moment-Kirti Azad

Kirti Azad is not the only Indian international cricketer to have entered politics-but his impact on cricket may well have been more than that of more distinguished players who went into politics (e.g. Navjot Sidhu, Chetan Chauhan and Azharuddin).

He was born into a political family-his father Bhagwat Jha Azad was a freedom fighter and was briefly a Congress CM of Bihar in 1988-89. In contrast, Kirti is now a third-term MP of the BJP, presently representing Darbhanga. This is what the Lok Sabha website has to say:

http://164.100.47.192/Loksabha/Members/MemberBioprofile.aspx?mpsno=25

But we now concentrate on his relatively undistinguished cricketing career which nevertheless had some high points. We start with the Cricinfo player page:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/26325.html

As you can see, Cricinfo does not think he is important enough to rate a photograph.

It can be seen that he played 7 Tests with a top score of 24 and best bowling of 2-84. By some criteria one could consider him among the worst Test players of all time, since there might be only a handful of players who played that many Tests without scoring above 30 or taking a 3-for.

His main contribution to Indian cricket was in the 1983 World Cup, where he played a small supporting role in most of the matches-but came good when it was needed in the semi-final against England:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65088.html

He took a miserly 1-28 off 12 overs (while Mohinder Amarnath took 2-27).

The one wicket he took was that of Botham.

Old-timers would remember how he almost single-handedly won a match against Pakistan-which was not an official ODI or even a List A match:

http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/141/141520.html

In domestic FC cricket he had a fairly impressive record, more as a batsman (20 centuries) than a bowler (5 fivers, no tenner).

But he seemed to have some strange power over England’s batsmen. His two best bowling analyses were against touring MCC teams. His best innings figures of 7-63 and match figures of 9-134 came in 1981-82 when he was still in contention for Tests and ODIs:

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1980S/1981-82/ENG_IN_IND/ENG_PRES-XI_17-19NOV1981.htm

Much later, long after he had played his last match for India, he took 6-30 for Delhi against the ill-fated 1992-93 MCC team:

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1992-93/ENG_IN_IND/ENG_DELHI_03-05JAN1993.html

This was one of the last FC matches he played.

Anyway, the contest between a BJP backbencher and top leader is likely to generate enough heat and light in the days to come.

Update: As expected, Kirti Azad was suspended from the BJP on disciplinary grounds on Dec 23, 2015.

Later he joined the Congress, but lost in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.