December 8, 2000

Padiham withdraw Sharma contract

Nigel Stockley

Jennings Ribblesdale League club Padiham have withdrawn their offer of a new contract to disgraced Indian Test star Ajay Sharma.

Padiham Secretary Ann Hall said, "This is Padiham's decision. We didn't want to have a professional who had been banned by his country, so we have withdrawn the offer of a new contract to him."

Sharma received a life ban on Tuesday along with former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin. Two other players, Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhaker were also banned for five years by the Indian Board of Control for Cricket.

Last season, 36 year old Sharma topped the league bowling averages, taking 53 wickets at an average of 10.6. His 841 league runs came at an average of 49.5, Padiham finishing in fifth place in the league, after winning the championship the previous two seasons.

Sharma's career in First Class Cricket has been outstanding in India. He has scored over 10,000 runs at an average of 68.5 and is behind only the great Don Bradman (95.1) and Vijay Merchant (71.2) in the list of batsmen who have passed that landmark in terms of batting averages.

It is therefore quite hard to believe that Sharma only played one Test Match, against the West Indies in 1987 - 88, scoring 30 and 23, hardly failures that warrant being discarded. He also toured the Caribbean in 1989 and Pakistan and New Zealand the following year. Sharma did play 31 One Day Tests, scoring 424 runs at 26.5 and taking 15 wickets with his slow left arm orthodox spin.