Mohammed Azharuddin is a politician and former Indian cricketer who Captained the national team during the 1990s. He was born in Hyderabad in 1963 and began his Test career with great fanfare when he scored a century on his debut against England in 1984. In 1990, he was appointed Captain of the Indian side, which he led for the next decade, winning 103 ODIs and 14 Tests. During this period, he set records for the fasts hundred, most runs and most catches in ODI cricket. After his retirement he entered Indian politics, being elected in 2009 as a Member of Parliament for Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. He is married to the actress Sangeeta Bijlani. He is regarded as one of Indian crickets sporting icons.
1 Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in?
I feel most at home in Hyderabad but also, I really like London. I was born in Hyderabad and people are always very helpful and very kind. Hyderabad is a historic city. Once the richest person in the world lived in Hyderabad, he was called Nizam of Hyderabad.
2 What are your proudest achievements?
Playing for India and being its captain; I enjoyed winning games for my home country and I was extremely proud whenever we won a game. But to be the captain of the team and therefore, given the responsibilities of leading the team was of course the greatest honour that I have ever had.
3 What inspires you?
I always get inspired when I see people who despite a disability or deformity are able to achieve so much. That is why I like watching The Paralympics. Those who are born with handicaps and who achieve so much should be an inspiration to all of us. I am certainly very inspired by them.
4 What has been biggest obstacle in your career?
When I was young the biggest obstacle to developing my skill as a cricketer was the state of the wickets at my school. These were really poor facilities and the wickets, and the grounds were just not being maintained. As a result, I think that there was a huge amount of talent that could have developed, if only the facilities were made available. But the state of the pitches at school level made it very difficult for people to flourish. It’s possible that people could have got injured on those pitches because they were so badly maintained. But imagine the great achievement of people who are able, despite these difficulties to make it to the top. That is where cricket starts, at the grass roots.
5 Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
My grandfather Mir Vajehuddia on my mother’s side taught me so much and I miss him every single day. He taught me good manners and how to choose right from wrong. And he always said to me, if you made a mistake you need to own up to that mistake. He was a very pious man and after I was born he told my mother that he would look after me and he would provide me with the support that I needed. That is why I think he had the greatest influence of my life and I miss him, and I thank him for all that he did for me.
6 What is the best aspect about your current role?
I just want to help people in any capacity’s that I have available, whether it’s as a cricketer or in politics, I think it’s very important that we give as much as we can to people. It’s also important for Indian cricketers to give something back and I hope I have done my bit to my community.
7 And the worst?
I hate losing and therefore, when we lost a game I would get very angry. I would replay the game in my mind so many times and it was the best way of finding out exactly what went wrong. However, failure leads to encouragement and I hope very much that we will be able to learn from our failures and become successes.
8 What are your long term goals?
To help humanity in general and to make sure that my experiences are made available to other people. I think education is extremely important and to be able to give people that education that they need is extremely important, so I want to do as much as I can to help young people in particular to develop their skills and talents.
9 If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change?
Not just to sit in the Prime Minister’s Office, I would want to go and visit every town, city and village in India and find out what the people think, so that there can be proper feedback on what I would be able to do. So, there is not one particular thing but a mood, a climate which I would want to foster as Prime Minister, if of course I was able to be Prime Minister! I think that politicians should straight talk, should be truthful and be very open and transparent in what they are doing.
10 If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why.
Indira Gandhi. She was a very strong lady. She was very, very tough and no matter what difficulties she faced she was able to keep going. Of course, in her life as in the life of any successful person she faced difficulties, but I would like to be with her to learn so much about what happened, when things went wrong she made sure that she tried to put them right.