BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya passed away on the 20th of September in his hometown of Kolkata. The 75 year old was admitted to a hospital a couple of days before his death after complaining of chest pain.
His death has come as a massive shock to the cricketing fraternity in India. Though he was not keeping well for a while now, the hospital authorities kept saying that he was stable and out of danger.
Dalmiya first entered the BCCI in 1979, where he represented the Cricket Association of Bengal, a body he was heading even at the time of his death.
He was elected to the post of treasurer in 1983 and was instrumental along with NKP Salve in ensuring that the 1987 World Cup was held in the Indian subcontinent.
It was the first occasion when the tournament was played outside England and Dalmiya ensured that the final was played in his hometown of Kolkata. He also played a pivotal role in the reintroduction of South Africa. India was the first team to play against them after their readmission to international cricket.
He revolutionised Indian cricket forever in 1993 when he sold rights for telecasting the Indian cricket team’s home matches to a private television channel. At that time, he was serving as Secretary in the BCCI. The decision was challenged in court and BCCI emerged victorious in the case.
Under Dalmiya, BCCI became the most powerful body in world cricket, overcoming the traditional superpower England and reducing the dominance of Australia in the International Cricket Council. He filled the coffers of the BCCI by inviting broadcasters other than Doordarshan to telecast the Indian cricket team’s matches.
He was also responsible for organising the 1996 World Cup in the Indian subcontinent, along with the then President of the BCCI, Madhavrao Scindia. He was elected to the post of President of the ICC in 1997 and served in that position for three years. He played a key role in granting test status to Bangladesh after their impressive showing at the 1999 World Cup in England.
He was the first Indian to be President of the ICC. He also revolutionised the culture within the team by hiring foreign coaches during his first tenure as the President of the BCCI from 2001 till 2004.
Dalmiya took over as President of the Asian Cricket Council in 2004. His casting vote proved the difference in the 2004 BCCI Presidential election, which was probably the only election that Sharad Pawar has lost in his life. However, Pawar stormed to power in December 2005 and a case of embezzlement of funds was filed against Dalmiya. He was expelled from the BCCI on the charge of embezzling funds during the 1996 World Cup. He was also arrested by the Economic Offences Wing in Mumbai in 2008 but was granted bail immediately.
He was elected to the post of President of the CAB in July 2008 after defeating Prasun Mukherjee. Dalmiya could heave a sigh of relief after the BCCI decided to withdraw the suit they had filed against him. They also withdrew the expulsion notice.
Dalmiya came back with a vengeance in 2013 when he was interim President of the BCCI after N Srinivasan had been forced to step down. He was elected to the post of President again this year after a gap of 11 years after Srinivasan was barred by the courts from contesting the elections.
Dalmiya was known as a player’s administrator and was often sympathetic to their issues and concerns. Presenter and commentator Harsha Bhogle summed up Dalmiya’s legacy best when he tweeted, “The best compliment an administrator can get is for players to say he was a player's man. Jagmohan Dalmiya got that.”
Dalmiya was a club cricketer, but had to leave the game after his father passed away. He took control of the family’s construction business at a young age and excelled at it. His most significant contribution to Indian cricket was making it a superpower in terms of the power it exercised at ICC meetings.
He shifted the headquarters of the BCCI to Kolkata, his hometown, and was also the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal. While he had corruption charges slapped against him, he was re-elected as BCCI’s President last year. His death leaves a vacuum that will be hard to fill.