Recent Tweets around us

Cricket's Alchemist

Modern cricket is as much about the 22-yards, as it is off the greens. And Jagmohan Dalmiya can easily be called one of the father figures of the game's modern era. He had both guts and gumption, verve and vision to turn the game on its head and make it a global name. He also gave Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) its bragging rights.

And he did all this with a smile and candour that looks real only in fairy tales. So when he played a pivotal role in getting cricket's biggest advertisement-- The World Cup-- -to India, he made the world sit up and take notice. BCCI changed for ever and for a decade thereafter the power centre of world cricket shifted to B C Roy Clubhouse at Eden Gardens from where he masterminded big and small coups.

A game changer, Dalmiya made the safari suit the symbol of power dessing in the corridors of BCCI and the million-dollar smile his biggest weapon. Despite his flight, he was always grounded working for the development of Bengal's cricket in equal measure. Under his leadership Bengal were no longer the whipping boys of Indian domestic cricket. Of course the team had the talent to back his boardroom prowess. But wasn't Bengal cricket always talented and unnoticed? That changed.

Dalmiya never backed out in face of challenges. Be it the Mike Dennesse high- handedness or ICC domination, he stood by his players. Lores have it that during the days when England had a virtual veto in all cricketing affairs, Dalmiya, at one ICC meeting, had quietly exploded: “When I was young I was told Britannia rules the waves, but now it seems that Britannia waives the rules.” He never took anyone for granted. But granted everyone an audience. He never left anything to chance. But gave everyone a chance to prove their merit. It is this pragmatism and patience that made him soar.

An opener during his days as a club cricketer, Dalmiya had to give up his dreams of playing because of the untimely death of his father. Getting busy running Kolkata’s famous ML Dalmiya construction company, he would return to cricket only as an administrator, rise through the ranks and be the first Indian to be the ICC president.

This handsome man and quintessential Bengali Bhodrolok, who was born a Marwari, was blooded into BCCI by Biswanath Dutta, whom he considered a mentor till the last day of his life and was ably counselled by Somnath Chatterjee. These two men left an irreversible impression on his personality and mindset, making him a redoubtable combination of a Marwari head with a Bengali heart.

So how do you count his legacy? Considering his eventful life and long list of achievements, its a complex ask. But simply put Dalmiya turned the BCCI finances without which nothing would have be been possible.

At a time when BCCI had to pay Doordarshan to telecast cricket games, Dalmiya fought court battles and the government. He got the Board huge money through telecast rights. Under Dalmiya the BCCI was canny, reserved and like those with old monies. He converted cricket into the popular opium of the masses in the sub-continent. He was cricket’s first alchemist and a master of realpolitik who only had the good of cricket as his sole motive.

(Piece written by Arindam Basu)

Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya's Last message:

I was privileged to inherit a golden tradition. All I have done in my 35-year long involvement with The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is to carry forward this tradition and ensure that it continues to grow in stature and glory.

In doing so, I was fortunate throughout to have fantastic mentors and colleagues. I will forever acknowledge the role of my mentor and former CAB and BCCI President B.N. Dutt, who had guided me to learn the ropes of cricket administration. And my current and previous teams of office bearers and Committee members have all been with me for years in this quest for excellence on behalf of the CAB.

The journey has truly been eventful. Despite India losing in the Semi Final, the final match of the 1987 World Cup at Eden Gardens was watched by close to 100,000 people, which is a historic achievement in world cricket. The CAB followed it up by hosting eight Final matches and three Semi Final matches of premier international cricket events, besides a number of Test matches and One Day Internationals. In 2011, a new feather was added in CAB's cap when it hosted its first ever T-20 International.The Hero Cup that was organized to celebrate CAB's Diamond Jubilee in 1993 will forever rank in Indian cricket history as one of the most exciting tournaments with India creating history by winning the tournament beating South Africa and West Indies in the Semi Final and Final respectively.

Personally, it was a proud moment for me to become the President of the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a representative of the CAB.

And then, who can forget the unbelievable Test match between India and Australia in March 2001 ? It is still ranked by many as the best Test match ever. Coming back from follow-on, India went on to beat the world's numero uno Test team in the last hour of the last day to script history. The CAB has tried to make the Test match immortal by putting up a photograph of the match on the outer façade of Dr. B.C. Roy Club House.

In the last few years, Eden Gardens has undergone a complete facelift. With state-of-the-art facilities and its existing aura, Eden Gardens is favoured venue for any cricketer across the globe.

There was always a criticism that apart from Pankaj Roy and Sourav Ganguly, Bengal has not been able to produce cricketers who could be truly "India material". Proving the detractors wrong, four cricketers from Bengal have played for the India and India 'A' teams in the last couple of years. In fact, they have played in all forms of the game – Tests, One Day Internationals and T-20.

Eden Gardens is also the home of Kolkata Knight Riders, who won their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title in 2012, much to the delight of their fans across Kolkata and Bengal.

At the CAB, we do look forward to and remain committed to take the Association forward and to leave an indelible impression on the cricket history of our country. And in doing so, our strength is the support that we have received from the Hon'ble Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee and the Government of West Bengal. But undoubtedly, the biggest support is from the common masses, who number in millions and are unrivaled in their passion for the game. I thank them from the core of my heart for all their support and good wishes and hope, that they will continue to stand by the CAB in the months and years to come.

Yours in cricket,

Jagmohan Dalmiya