Indian cricket lost a titan on September 20 2015, as Jagmohan Dalmiya passed away.
He was respected by all, loved by masses and was key as cricket became a billion dollar worth business.
Dalmiya transformed Indian cricket. He was the treasurer of BCCI as India successfully lobbied to host 1987 Cricket World Cup along with Pakistan; it was the first time that the tournament was not hosted in England. The tournament, which was expected to be a failure turned out to be a big success.
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He broke the monopoly of Doordarshan (state-owned television broadcasting service) for broadcasting cricket matches. He sold television rights of a tournament organized by Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to a privately owned foreign broadcaster Trans World International. Doordarshan sued Dalmiya but the latter came out victorious.
Following this landmark judgment, private players entered into the market. This helped in the advertising revenue during cricket matches and the revenue of BCCI increased manifolds. Cricket’s prominence and popularity grew and Indian politicians and administrators began to take more interest into the game.
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Dalmiya also had a knack of maintaining and cultivating allies. During his tenure, a power bloc was formed in Asia, as an alternative for the existing order in international cricket dominated by England and Australia. The Asian Bloc secured the rights to host the World Cup in 1996 from right under the noses of England.
The tournament became a big commercial success. The Broadcasting Rights for the tournament went for 10 Million Dollars, Title Sponsorship went for 13 million dollars. In totality, ICC earned itself a whopping 50 Million Dollars.
He also worked as the ICC President from 1997-2000. His tenure saw ICC generating huge revenues. ICC claimed the profits of World Cup organised in Great Britain and Netherlands than the host countries.
ICC, under him, awarded Bangladesh a test status. ICC also organised first ever ICC Knockout Trophy in 1998.
He became the BCCI President in 2001 after his term as an ICC President ended. In 2003, Dalmiya came up with the idea of ‘central contracts’ for Indian players and pensions to former Indian cricketers. Dalmiya suffered the only defeat of his illustrious career when his candidate Ranbir Singh Mahendra was defeated by Sharad Pawar for the post of BCCI President.
He was accused of corruption and expelled from both CAB and BCCI. However, he returned into the fold of BCCI as Supreme Court cleared his name. In 2006, he became the President of CAB which began his rehabilitation in cricket administration. Finally, on 2nd March 2015, Jagmohan Dalmiya replaced much maligned N Srinivasan to become the BCCI President after ten long years.
No one changed the game as much as Dalmiya did. He brought money in the game, commercialised it and put enough wind into its sails.
Jagmohan Dalmiya was a messiah for Indian cricket and left an unprecedented legacy on the India’s most popular sport.