Jagmohan Dalmiya died doing what he loved best: Running Indian cricket.
The canny cricket administrator, who was re-elected president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in March 2015, passed away in Kolkata on Sept. 20, following a heart attack.
The former wicketkeeper began his innings at the BCCI in 1979, before taking office as its treasurer in 1983. Under his leadership, the BCCI became the game’s richest sporting body.
In 1987, he helped bring the cricket World Cup to the subcontinent for the first time. During these years, he also crafted a series of lucrative television deals—and set the foundation for transforming the gentleman’s game into the money-spinning spectacle that it is today.
Within a decade, he broke into cricket’s global arena, becoming president of the International Cricket Council (ICC)—the apex body for cricket globally—between 1997 and 2000.
But the downfall was even more swift.
A decade later, amid allegations of more corruption at the BCCI under a different administrator, Jaggu da—as he was fondly called—made a remarkable comeback.
Here is a brief chronicle of the rise, fall and rise of Dalmiya.
In 1997, Dalmiya became the president of the ICC.
When Dalmiya took charge as the ICC president, according to some reports, the sporting body had a measly $37,000 in its coffers. By the time he left in 2000, it had $11 million. Much of that had to do with Dalmiya’s business acumen and marketing ability, which also remade Indian cricket.
It helped that Dalmiya always knew his way around money. The son of a Kolkata construction magnate, he’d joined the family business as a 19-year-old.
Writing in ESPN Cricinfo, Martin Williamson described the disruption that Dalmiya helmed:
The last vestiges of a gentler, more laid-back world disappeared with Dalmiya’s arrival. The Asian countries, for so long limited to a subservient role, now called the shots thanks to their massive commercial power, with Dalmiya leading the charge. They were in the driving seat and wasted no time in modernising the ICC and maximising its control of the lucrative World Cup.
After his tenure at the ICC, Dalmiya became the president of the BCCI in 2000. He held the position until 2004.
By then, the BCCI had become the game’s most powerful body. In 2001, when India was touring South Africa, ICC referee and former England captain Mike Denness found Sachin Tendulkar and five other Indian players guilty of a technical breach of rules.
Indian players were banned for one test even as the country protested. In the end, Tendulkar was let off and the following year ICC did not reappoint Denness as a match referee.
Writing for ESPN Cricinfo, this is how Dicky Rutnagur described Dalmiya’s role in the incident:
The tourists (Indian team) were mere bystanders, while war was waged on their behalf by Jagmohan Dalmiya, newly elected president of the Indian board and also a former president of the ICC. Dalmiya said that, at the ICC executive’s next meeting in March, he would press for the Centurion match to be retrospectively recognised as a Test (it was not) and demand a review of the penalties imposed by Denness.
In 2005, Dalmiya was wrestled out of India’s cricketing board for close to a decade.
Much of that had to do with a rival faction winning the elections under Sharad Pawar, then India’s minister for agriculture. Dalmiya was accused of financial misappropriation by the new regime, which also forced him to resign as the chief of the Cricket Association of Bengal in Dec. 2006.
After multiple court cases against him, Dalmiya was finally cleared to contest elections and became the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal in 2008 for a five-year-term.
In March 2015, Dalmiya returned as the president of the BCCI.
Much of that had to do with, N. Srinivasan, the then president of the BCCI facing allegations of massive corruption, which forced even India’s supreme court to step in. Dalmiya emerged as the consensus candidate between various factions in BCCI when elections were held. This was his second term as the president of BCCI.