Hyderabad: Muck in the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has hit the ceiling. With five of the elected Apex Council members up against president Mohammed Azharuddin ever since the acrimonious Annual general meeting (AGM) on April 11, the HCA heavyweights have been landing blows and counters for control of the cricket body. The former Indian captain is in a tight corner and outnumbered.
First it was the appointment of Ombudsman and Ethics Officer on which the two groups weren’t on the same page. Now it is the newly appointed CEO who is caught in the crossfire.
Azhar has taken strong objection to the nomination of Suneel Kante for the top executive post and has written to secretaries of affiliated clubs, listing out the anomalies in the appointment, which the other group claims was done at the AGM that continued after the president ended it abruptly (after a ruckus) and walked out with his supporters without completing the agenda.
Last week, HCA secretary R. Vijayanand sent out a note saying Kante has taken charge as CEO in the presence of the vice-president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer and was available at the HCA office at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium.
Azhar contends Kante does not fulfil the criteria, and threw the rule book at his rivals as he alleged “violations of the constitution of HCA & procedural infirmities in the hiring of the CEO.”
“It is only logical to assume that the hiring process was done under the collective responsibility and watchful eyes of the Vice-President, Secretary, Joint Secretary, Treasurer and Councillor. Neither me, the players’ council representatives nor the CAG representative were kept in the loop on this hiring,” he said, accusing them of conspiring to bulldoze the Constitution.
“The rule says there shall be an appropriate induction process laid down by the Apex Council for the CEO & the managers, which shall include a fair and transparent process of appointment,” Azhar added.
“As per the advertisement issued on October 27, 2020, for CEO & CFO, the six requirements were: Management degree with sufficient experience in different layers of organisation; knowledge of budget planning & financial prudence; operational knowledge of cricket operations; ability to implement innovative administrative methods; should possess the ability to handle regulatory bodies and should be a team player.
“Twelve CVs were received on email between October 27, 2020 and November 11, 2020. The CV of the selected candidate announced by the Secretary is not in the list of applications received on email. I would be surprised if the 12 applicants were even called for an interview. Shortlisted applicants should have been tested by a panel of experts from the fields of cricket, finance, management, legal, compliance & administration. None of this was followed.
“The law also says he should have management experience of at least 5 years as CEO/MD of a company having a turnover of at least `100 crores besides having knowledge & familiarity with cricket & other sports; understanding of the financial position & fiscal direction of HCA; knowledge of operations of cricket administration & overall policy; clarity on role, division of responsibilities & hierarchy and familiarity with regulatory & legal responsibilities & attendant risks. All the above requirements of law were blatantly violated,” Azhar alleged.
The rival group put out Kante’s CV that lists him holding a Master in Business Administration degree and having worked for companies such as Tata Technologies, Ernst & Young and EXL with stints in the UK and the USA.
Ironically, in the previous episode, it was Azhar who went ahead with the appointment of an ombudsman which was challenged by the group over procedures and violations of norms.
Azhar says there’s an enquiry initiated against some members of the Apex Council and that they should get their names cleared by the authority before administration can resume and Council meetings convened.
The opposite group is levelling charges, raking up Azhar's past and pending CBI cases on match fixing and betting.
This ugly confrontation is definitely dragging Hyderabad cricket through mud, and the game looks far from gentlemanly now.