A tribute to Jagmohan Dalmiya, the man who changed the face of Indian cricket, on his 84th birth anniversary.

Jagmohan Dalmiya. Source: X

My first meeting with Jagmohan Dalmiya was rather strange. Back home for field research in March 2001, I landed up at the Cricket Association of Bengal office wearing a T-shirt and chappals. I had pages of questions for Dalmiya on the lack of transparency in Indian cricket and was rather aggressive to start with. It was the immediate aftermath of the match-fixing scandal and I was out to expose the rot.

Dalmiya, after giving me a patient hearing, asked if I would dress the same way if I wanted to research the MCC’s archives. “You said you are from Oxford. I am sure you have been to Lord’s. So, do they allow you to go in chappals?” he asked. If not, why was it that I was doing it differently at the Eden Gardens? I knew I was up against it. And he had said it all with a smile on his face.

Thereafter the bond grew and eventually I shared a very personal relationship with Jagmohan Dalmiya, one which went beyond cricket and stretched back to more than a decade and a half. When I got married, he was the one who stood and blessed Sharmistha and me with my father not there. That’s how close the bond was.As a student working on Indian cricket history, it was Jagguda who helped me with access to the BCCI’s archives and also the board’s balance sheets in a rare first for Indian cricket. Answering the many hundred queries that I had, he never lost his cool, the hallmark of a seasoned administrator. In situations where the query bordered on the politically incorrect, all he would say is “Let me look into it and get back.”

A champion of real politik, he has won many a difficult battle as a cricket administrator. However, his most enduring legacy would surely be the fact that it was Dalmiya who made cricket the cash rich sport that it is today. Selling the telecast rights for the 1996 World Cup for ten million dollars to World Tel, it was a first in world cricket, when he took over as ICC chief. At that time, the bank balance was a poor 16 thousand Pound Sterling.

When he relinquished the position, the balance had shot up to 16 million. Converting the Indian board into the richest cricket board in the world and making India the financial power centre of the world game, Jagguda, as we all know him, would forever be remembered in the echelons of Indian and world cricket. Not simply as one more administrator who did good for the game but as a very special one who changed the face of the game forever.

Remembering Jagguda. Mickey, this article is also for you.

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