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Jagmohan Dalmiya best sport administrator in 50 years: Kapil Dev

If Indian cricketers have a good life now, it is because of Jagmohan Dalmiya, said Kapil Dev at the first Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave organised by the Cricket Association of Bengal

cricket Updated: Nov 14, 2017 23:30 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Jagmohan Dalmiya,Kapil Dev,Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave
Kapil Dev’s tribute to Jagmohan Dalmiya was studded by applause from the packed house at the first Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave.(PTI)

It was fitting that a metaphorical toast would be raised to Jagmohan Dalmiya at the Taj Bengal hotel here on Tuesday. Not far from his home, this was the scene of Dalmiya’s triumphs and also the longest, most lonely walk of his life when he lost control of the Indian cricket board.

The evening began with Thilanga Sumathipala, the Sri Lanka board chief, praising Dailmiya’s negotiation skills and ended with Kapil Dev calling him his hero and sport’s best administrator in 50 years.

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It is difficult to encapsulate the storied life of a man who changed the economics of cricket for India and the world in two speeches but Sumathipala and Kapil can’t be faulted for not trying at the first Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave organised by the Cricket Association of Bengal.

Remembering PILCOM

Sumathipala’s anecdotes about “Jaggu” took the audience back to the days of PILCOM (the three-country committee formed for the 1996 World Cup). Stating that he needed special permission to leave the country because the budget session was on, Sumathipala, who is the deputy speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament, recalled how Dalmiya got an India-Pakistan team to play in Sri Lanka and show the world that life does go on even days after the country’s central bank is bombed.

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With Mohammed Azharuddin in the room, Sumathipala, who is also the only surviving PILCOM director, narrated how “in five minutes” ‘Jaggu’ also solved the problem of getting ‘Azza’ to lead a team that had Wasim Akram.

“He called up (Pakistan’s) Intikhab Alam and said being manager of such a team is the most important thing and got him to agree that Akram would play under Azza,” said Sumathipala, 53. “I think he was born as a negotiator…one who had the knack of getting everyone under one roof,” he said.

‘He gave us a good life’

For someone who didn’t make a good first impression on him, it was a measure of how much Dalmiya grew on India’s greatest all-rounder that Kapil’s tribute was studded by applause from the packed house that included the India and Sri Lanka teams.

“If cricketers have a good life now, it is because of him... I think he is the best administrator in sport in the last 50 years,” said the man for whom Eden once chorused ‘No Kapil, no Test.’

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“When we were playing, we would always look at the wages of English and Australian cricketers and wonder when we would manage to come close. In 20 years, they are the ones looking to earn like Indian cricketers. The credit for this goes to my hero,” said Kapil, 58.

“Dalmiya wasn’t the best of speakers but knew how to write a contract. He was the first board official who sought a dialogue with the players. Before that, there were only orders. The 1980s batch of Indian cricketers would remain grateful to him for that,” said Kapil.

If Sumathipala ended by batting for unity in Asian cricket boards because only then would the game benefit, Kapil, after praising Virat Kohli for “bringing about a big change in fitness”, asked the India captain to take the team to where it has never gone. Taken together, that is exactly what Dalmiya would have wanted.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 21:42 IST