As the Eden Gardens ground gears up to host the India-South Africa Twenty20 International on Thursday, late cricket czar Jagmohan Dalmiya — for whom the ground was his second home — seems omnipresent in pictures, banners and recollections.
Associated with the Eden Gardens-headquartered Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) as a cricket administrator since the 1970s, Dalmiya passed away on September 20 while he was helming the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Amid a flurry of activities to make the match a success, the CAB mandarins seemed nostalgic as Dalmiya's name cropped up in their discussions time and again.
Dalmiya, who held on to the CAB president's post from 1993 till his death, except a 19-month hiatus between December, 2006 and July, 2008, used to be the central figure whenever any cricket match was played at the Eden.
Be it the 1987 Reliance World Cup final, or the historic return of South Africa in 1991 to international cricket after the apartheid era, or other top flight international matches over the past four decades - Dalmiya was more often than not responsible for the matches being awarded to the Eden Gardens.
He would always lead the organising efforts from the front, from resolving the numerous knotty issues through his legendary negotiating skills, to playing the perfect host to the invitees from the world of cricket, politics or other vocations who trooped into the colosseum on such big occasions.
It was also from the Eden that Dalmiya for years controlled the game in India as the BCCI secretary and president, and even globally when he headed the International Cricket Council (ICC) between 1997 and 2000 as its first Asian chief.
“Yes, we do miss Jaguda (as Dalmiya was affectionately called). but at the same time we are trying hard to maintain the high standards that he had set as an organiser. That only can be the fittest tribute to him,” CAB trustee board chairman Goutam Dasgupta said.
Sourav Ganguly, who is tipped to take over as the CAB president on October 15, concurred. CAB has ensured fans who will come to watch the game get to pay their tributes.