He may never be cricket’s comeback man, but with his recent election as President of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Jagmohan Dalmiya has proved to be cricket administration’s comeback man. Ousted in 2006, after being charged with financial irregularities during the 1996 World Cup when he was BCCI Secretary Convenor, the 68-year-old is quite a wily old fox who may have gone down but was never out.Of course, Dalmiya’s proclivity to foot-crush his opposition was a natural corollary to his success in making India the money Mecca of cricket that forced the “white” guard to bow to his diktats—even electing him President of the International Cricket Council in 1997 following the successful staging of two World Cups in the Indian subcontinent in 1987 and 1996.
His election also raises the bogey of him becoming the President of India’s richest sports body again. The present office-bearers will naturally be uncomfortable sharing the spotlight with a man they so viciously attacked not too long back. Dalmiya himself is downplaying his comeback, saying he is not gunning for any slot in the BCCI hierarchy. “My focus is to get the Bengal cricket team into the premier league of domestic cricket—it has been relagated to the Plate Division for the first time in 75 years—and look into the administrative problems plaguing the association,” he says. So, have BCCI’s top duo—President Sharad Pawar and Secretary Lalit Modi—called him up? “Well, they are busy people and I’m sure they will call when they have the time,” says Dalmiya. And while he might deny it, cricket watchers are betting on a contest royale between Pawar’s political clout and Dalmiya’s machinations within the BCCI rank and file.
Will he win back his fiefdom? Well, that’s a multibillion dollar question!
—Tejeesh N.S. Behl