Jagmohan Dalmiya, 75, president of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has won many a battle against the odds in 35-odd years of cricket administration. In his death, India lost the man who was singularly responsible for sowing the seeds to make the country a cricketing powerhouse. After the first three editions of the ICC World Cup—1975, 1979, 1983—were hosted in England, he along with IS Bindra managed to get India and Pakistan to co-host the Reliance World Cup in 1987. In 1993, Dalmiya stood up against state-owned Doordarshan and demanded that if matches were to be shown, the broadcaster had to pay for TV rights. All that money earned went straight to the BCCI. It was fortuitous as it coincided with India’s cable TV revolution. With that move, Dalmiya ensured that the BCCI would be always cash flush. It changed the way sporting events are lapped up by an eager nationwide audience, for a fee.
As if that was not enough, Dalmiya ended the Anglo-Australian duopoly at the ICC by becoming its president.
Suddenly, from being one of the outliers, India came centre-stage in cricket. The success of the IPL in recent times is primarily due to the large Indian TV audience that has made monetising cricket all that more easy. Although he was embroiled in unfortunate controversies later in his life, Dalmiya will always be remembered as India’s Kerry Packer.