The man for all seasons

When the spot-fixing scandal rocked the Indian cricket establishment, the powers that be turned to the tried and tested Jagmohan Dalmiya as its first consensus candidate for  the interim president’s post and earlier this year, he again emerged as the man who was found acceptable by one and all to take up the president’s mantle.

 BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who passed away in Kolkata on Sunday, will go down in history as the man who made Indian cricket a commercially  viable entity and engineered a shift of power base from its spiritual home at the Lord’s to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.

In a dramatic administrative career, he experienced several twists and turns. He staged comebacks when many wrote him off. If Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket shook the traditional cricket establishment of Australia, it was the astute business man from Kolkata, who understood the potential of India becoming commercially a global powerhouse of cricket.

He struck a <g data-gr-id="37">multi million</g> television deal with World Tel in the early 90’s that went a long way in making BCCI the richest cricketing body in the world. A canny tactician and someone who was at forefront of the BCCI numbers game, Dalmiya was the moving force behind India co-hosting the Reliance World Cup in 1987, and then the Wills World Cup in 1996.

In his 35 years of <g data-gr-id="41">administrative</g> career that started from being elected as Cricket Association of Bengal, working committee member from Rajasthan Club, followed by being the treasurer and subsequently the Secretary of the body.

A protege of former BCCI president BN Dutt, he became the treasurer in the mid 1980’s and was known as the man who convinced NKP Salve to allow Eden Gardens host the Reliance Cup final at the Eden Gardens instead of Wankhede Stadium. He along with friend-turned-foe, Inderjit Singh Bindra also defeated the English and Australian block to win the bid for co-hosting the 1996 edition in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

In 1997, he was elected unanimously as the president of the International Cricket Council (ICC). In 2001, he defeated AC Muttiah to become the BCCI president in one of the most pitched elections in Chennai. 

In one of the most acrimonious BCCI elections, Dalmiya gave a casting vote in favour of his candidate Ranbir Singh Mahendra to defeat Union Minister and NCP heavyweight Sharad Pawar by a solitary vote.However, the quartet of Pawar, N Srinivasan, Shashank Manohar, and Lalit Modi with the backing of Bindra came back next year to not only defeat Mahendra but also opened cases against him. He was suspended from the BCCI in 2006 and also ousted from his home association. After nearly a decade in the wilderness, Dalmiya won a long legal battle and reclaimed his place in the state association.

It had been quite some time since Dalmiya was unable to properly conduct any BCCI meetings in the recent past. In fact, Dalmiya could not coherently answer any question when he met the three-member SC-appointed panel headed by Justice RM Lodha, where his son was prompting all the questions to him.

There were murmurs in BCCI on his failing health, and recently there were calls to remove him from the post of president.  With Dalmiya’s sudden demise, Indian cricket is definitely poorer.


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