Countering Sourav Ganguly's allegation that Jagmohan Dalmiya "played" with his career, the Bengal batsman's former legal counsel Siddhartha Shankar Ray on Sunday said the cricket administrator had taken up cudgels whenever the ex-Indian captain landed in trouble.
Ray, a leading barrister who served as Ganguly's counsel twice when the left-hander was engaged in bitter fights with ICC in 2004 and 2005, said he was 'depressed' and 'disheartened' at the souring of relations between the player and the veteran cricket administrator.
"That their friendship could come to such a pass has left me depressed and disheartened," the octogenarian former CAB President said when his attention was drawn to Ganguly's explosive e-mail where the local boy raised the banner of revolt against the CAB president on Saturday.
In 2004, then Indian captain Ganguly was served a two-Test ban by match referee Clive Lloyd for the team's slow over rate during the India-Pakistan BCCI platinum jubliee one-dayer at Eden Gardens.
Ray, a former West Bengal Chief Minister, took over the case and the ICC-appointed arbitrator Tim Castle adjudged that Ganguly was not in the wrong and lifted the suspension.
In 2005, Ganguly was again pulled up for the same offence during the Indo-Pak one-day series and ICC referee Chris Broad gave him a six-match suspension.
Ray, again appointed Ganguly's counsel, succeeded in reducing the punishment to a four-ODI ban.
"On both these occasions, I saw Dalmiya fighting hard for Sourav. It looked as if he is fighting for his son," Ray told newspersons.
Ray, however, added that he had no intention of holding a brief for the either of the two in the aftermath of the e-mail controversy.
"Ganguly is a brilliant cricketer, a good opener and a good bowler," he said.
Ray also found fault with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's statement that he wanted Dalmiya to stay away from the CAB presidential polls slated for July 30.
"I was chief minister for five years (1972-77). But I had never interfered in the affairs of a sports body. This is not the right thing to do," he said.
Criticising the nomination of city police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee as the presidential challenger against Dalmiya, Ray said "I have been coming to the Eden Gardens since 1938. But I never have I seen a police commissioner serve as CAB president".
"Bureaucrats and police commissioners have to work under tremendous pressure. They are overworked. They hardly have any spare time," he said.
Coming down heavily on the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI for keeping Ganguly out of the Indian team, Ray said "The way Sourav was dropped was unfair. He was then doing well".