Pic Courtesy Pratidin
20th September 2017
Every time I sit to write a memoriam about Jagmohan Dalmiya I find myself struggling to come to terms with the fact that he is no more. Time flies. It already is his second death anniversary.
Perhaps the best thing about Mr Dalmiya was his disarming smile and handsome presence. I met him for the first time as a young reporter still not fully initiated into the labyrinth of BCCI. So like a fool I walked up to him and said: “Sir, I have heard a lot about you. Can I get an exclusive interview?”
He was sitting in his cabin. He looked up at me asked my name and where I worked and then with that smile said: “One day…sure…one day” That was the power of Dalmiya, even when he dismissed you summararily you didn’t quite feel bad.
With time I had come to know him as one of the finest administrators and thinkers of the game. I don’t have to say that formally though as his credit sheet runs for miles and is there for the world to know. But what I want to talk about is his generosity. He remembered the young boy who had dared to barged into his room for a story and then after a few years he called me to his office on Theatre Road and gave me one of the biggest stories of my life. He remembered me.
It was this keen study and meticulous modus operandi that made him such a stalwart. I know the biggest to the smallest made a beeline at his house on Alipore Road and his office for favours and they never returned empty handed. Even if they were denied, they were sent back with the hope of something better for future. He was a dream merchant. He dreamt to make BCCI the most powerful board in world cricket and at the same time made sure the little dreams and aspirations of the members of his state association were not crushed under his ambitions. To sell a dream is one thing to live and share it with others is altogether a different ball game.
Pic Courtesy Pratidin
And he played the game on front foot. Even his worst adversary respected him. For he never let his defences down or slipped on the slippery rope walk of BCCI politics. If reticence was his strength, his open hearted laughter was his secret weapon. He made the accomplished administrators of England and Australia bite dust with such regularity that at one point they just gave up. When politics did not permit he made friends with the bosses of Pakistan cricket board, gave Bangladesh the Test playing status and even made a mark on world cricket when apartheid cured South Africa landed at Eden Gardens.
This was Dalmiya. He never allowed his ambition come in the way of the health of the game. He started the Asian Test Championship and had he been in power for a little longer he might have begun World Test Championship. He wanted to get the best out of the game and give it his best in return.
No wonder every time BCCI was in the rut, they turned to him. Even after the IPL scandal when he was not keeping well. BCCI may not have officially given him the status of a father figure, but he was the rainman who envisioned the board’s turn around, rise and being the power centre of world cricket. I still can’t imagine life without his charm and presence at the CAB in his posh safari suit, neatly styled hair and a walk that made others feel assured and calm.
Long live his legend!