I woke up early morning today in Hong Kong to receive the sad news of the passing away of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the BCCI President. His passing away is a great loss to the cricket administration, the BCCI, the CAB, his friends and family. To me it is a personal loss as we shared a warm personal relationship for over two decades.
I first met him in the early nineties when he and Inderjit Bindra another veteran cricket administrator decided to take on the Government of India and defend the BCCI’s right to telecast its’ own cricket matches and support the game of cricket with the revenues generated by Television Broadcasting rights. The Government contended that ‘National Security’ would be threatened if uplinking was allowed to Private Parties. We succeeded in getting an Interim order from the Supreme Court and finally won the case. Thanks to the battle fought by the ‘Dalmiya-Bindra duo, ‘AIRWAVES’ were freed in India and free speech on Television became a reality and more meaningful.
Having economically empowered the BCCI with the TV money, Dalmiya realized the power of the ‘eyeballs’. India alone accounted for more than seventy five per cent of the TV audiences, an equal amount of sponsorship money and hence India’s influence in the International Cricket Council would also increase. Dalmiya became the President of the ICC and India’s influence in the world of cricket has never looked back.
He attracted opposition both within the ICC and the BCCI. The Left Front Government managed to oust him only briefly from the CAB but he made a comeback.
The BCCI ‘created’ charges of irregularities against him only to withdraw them and vindicate his honour. His eventual vindication came when the BCCI in crisis in 2013 requested him to lead it once again since they needed Dalmiya to restore its credibility. By then his health was already failing him. Cricket however was still his first love.
I last met him in Kolkata last month. He was hopeful of recovering. Destiny however, decided otherwise. The game of cricket has lost a great administrator who shifted the Home of cricket to India. I have lost a personal friend.