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JagmohanDalmiya:The man who commercialisedCricket and shifted the powerCentre toIndia

For many, Jagmohan Dalmiya’s
contribution to Indian cricket off the
pitch was as big as Sachin Tendulkar’s
on the pitch.
Jagguda, as he was fondly called by his
Kolkata admirers, did three things
that completely changed Indian
cricket as we know it. First, he was
instrumental in India hosting the
World Cup in 1987 and then nine years
down the line in 1996.
Second, he played an active role in
commercialising cricket’s TV rights.
Dalmiya, along with Inderjit Singh
Bindra, won a legal battle against
Doordarshan for selling the television
rights of cricket matches in India.
Third, Dalmiya shifted the power
centre to India. England lost the
money and power of world cricket to
Q. How did Dalmiya join the BCCI?
Born in 1940 to a Marwari family in
Kolkata, Dalmiya started his cricket
career as a wicket-keeper. He grew
up playing the sport at the university
and first division club level.
He joined his father’s firm, ML
Dalmiya & Co. But that was not what
interested him. In the late 1970s, he
ran for Cricket Association of Bengal
(CAB) president. He won and was first
president, then secretary and became
vice president.
He joined the BCCI in 1979 and was
elected its treasurer in 1983.
Q. When Dalmiya started his cricket
journey, India was not a powerhouse
in the bat and ball game. What did
Dalmiya do to take India to that
He was instrumental in Indian
subcontinent hosting the World Cup in
1987 and then nine years down the
line in 1996. He worked closely with
bureaucrat Bindra and cricket
administrator NKP Salve.
England, which had hosted all the
previous three World Cups beginning
1975, was against India hosting the
event. However, in 1984, with support
votes from associate nations, the
proposal passed through the ICC with
a huge majority. The 1987 World Cup
was the first time the Cricket World
Cup was held outside of England, and
paved way for rotation system for
hosting the tournament. For the first
time, England lost being the supreme
power of world cricket.
Dalmiya ensured the final was played
at Kolkata, renovating its clubhouse
in time. Another big thing was
Reliance Industries coming on-board
as a sponsor. The value of sponsorship
between the 1987 and 1996 World Cups
jumped. The 1996 World Cup saw ITC’s
Wills brand sponsor the event for $12
million compared to Rs 10 million paid
by Reliance in 1987.
Q. What was Dalmiya’s role in
commercialising cricket’s TV rights?
Until the 1990s, pubcaster
Doordarshan had a monopoly on the
game. In fact, DD had the sole rights
to telecast the India matches and the
BCCI had to pay around Rs 500,000
per game. When Dalmiya was appointed
the BCCI secretary in 1992, he
strongly believed that the telecast
rights belonged to the BCCI and that
the justifications provided by the
broadcasting ministry for holding on
to the rights were not valid. That
was the time when Bindra was
president of the BCCI.
Dalmiya and Bindra sold telecasting
rights of the 1993–94 India–England
series to Transworld International
for a fee of $40,000, or Rs 1.8
million. DD had to buy the rights from
TWI for $1 million. Prior to this, the
commercial situation for cricket was
so bad that after India won the World
Cup for the first time in 1983, Lata
Mangeshkar was asked to do a benefit
concert so that players could get
prize money.
Even before the England series in
1993, the CAB and the BCCI tried to
rope in a private broadcaster to
produce matches in the Hero Cup, a
tournament which was to
commemorate the association’s
diamond jubilee in November 1993.
Dalmiya, along with Bindra, fought a
legal battle to sell the broadcast
rights to a private channel. The
government opposed this, arguing that
‘national security’ would be
threatened if up-linking was allowed
to private parties. In 1995, the
Supreme Court ruled in a landmark
judgment that airwaves could no
longer be a state monopoly. We moved
to the era of free speech on
television. And the BCCI could sell TV
rights. This meant that the monies
that the BCCI got from TV rights kept
multiplying over the years.
In the 1996 World Cup, the TV rights
were sold to WorldTel, a US-based
company led by the late Mark
Mascarenhas, for $10 million.
Q. Nursing global ambitions, Dalmiya
moved to the International Cricket
Council (ICC). How did he improve the
functioning and role of the ICC?
In 1997, he was elected president of
the ICC, the sport’s world governing
body. He remained in that position till
2000. One big thing that happened was
Bangladesh being allowed to play Test
cricket. He also supported Bangladesh
in winning the hosting rights of the
first-ever ICC Knockout Trophy in
He brought about a major overhaul in
the ICC and is credited with helping
the body generate more revenues.
The profits made from World Cup were
directed to the ICC instead of the
host nations, strengthening ICC’s
power over the World Cup.
The ICC apparently had only 16,000
pounds in its coffers when he became
president. Under him, a system was
developed that earned millions of
dollars. Dalmiya saw the issue as
being one of bad financial
management. He focused on investing
more money in the sport. He started
with the 1999 World Cup. TV rights
for the 1999 World Cup were sold for
$16 million.
In June 2000, Dalmiya quit as
president of the ICC. This was a
month after the TV rights were
awarded for two ICC events—the ICC
World Cup and the ICC Knockout
Champions Trophy. The marketing
rights for the events were bagged by
the Rupert Murdoch-owned Global
Corporation (GCC) for $550 million.
Q. How did Dalmiya alter the power
centre to India?
By ensuring that the BCCI got fat
revenues from selling TV rights,
Dalmiya realised the power of the
‘eyeballs’. As India alone accounted
for more than 75 per cent of the TV
audiences, the commercial might of
the game shifted to India. The ICC
came under the influence of the BCCI.
When Dalmiya became president of the
ICC, he saw to it that India became a
power centre. England lost the money
and power of world cricket to India.
Q. Why is Dalmiya seen as a team
player by many?
One incident sticks out. In 2001, the
same year he became BCCI president
for his first term, he fought with the
ICC over what was called the ‘Denness
Affair’ in which the ICC match
referee and former England captain
Mike Denness found Sachin Tendulkar
guilty of a technical breach of the
rules for which Virender Sehwag was
banned for one match
Dalmiya demanded a right of appeal
from the ICC, which was refused. He
also demanded that Denness be
replaced as match referee for the
following Test or it would be
cancelled. Ultimately, as Denness was
not permitted to referee the final
match of the series by the BCCI and
the UCBSA, the match was stripped of
Test status by the ICC.
Dalmiya and Bindra once argued with
the ICC that it was unfair that
whenever a foreign team visited
India, we paid them $1,00,000 per
ODI and $5,00,000 per Test match,
but when India went abroad, they did
not pay us an equal amount. The ICC
agreed and, from then on, everyone
had to pay an equal amount.
Q. What else was noteworthy about
his stint as BCCI president?
Contracts to Indian team players, and
pensions to former cricketers and
umpires were first awarded in 2003
when Dalmiya was the cricket board’s
On a more negative note, during his
tenure there was confusion over the
broadcast rights for India cricket.
Zee and ESPN Star Sports went to
court over the issue in 2004. For
Dalmiya, money was apparently not
the only criterion to select a
broadcaster. The board lost money
over the fight. Ultimately, a new
BCCI dispensation drew up a fresh
contract structure that saw Nimbus
bag the rights beating out the next
closest bid from Zee. Subhash Chandra
thus lost twice in his attempt to be a
broadcaster on India cricket.
Q. Did Dalmiya fall foul of the cricket
In 2005, Sharad Pawar became BCCI
president as the Dalmiya faction lost.
In 2006, the BCCI expelled him on
charges of embezzling funds from the
1996 World Cup. He was banned from
BCCI meetings; a first information
report was filed against him. But
Dalmiya refused to stay away from
the game.
Dalmiya submitted a 46-page report,
which he said the disciplinary
committee did not even read.
In 2007, he successfully challenged
the criminal cases filed by the BCCI
before the Bombay High Court. The
board was forced to revoke his
suspension in 2010.
Q. How did Dalmiya return?
In July 2010, the Calcutta High Court
dismissed charges against Dalmiya,
and allowed him to contest for the
presidency of the Cricket Association
of Bengal, which he subsequently won.
Q. How did the IPL controversy
benefit Dalmiya?
In June 2013, Dalmiya was appointed
interim BCCI president after N
Srinivasan stepped aside till the probe
on Srinivasan’s son-in-law’s alleged
involvement in spot-fixing in the IPL
On 2 March 2015, Dalmiya returned as
BCCI president after a 10-year gap
replacing Srinivasan.
Q. How health failed Dalmiya?
In his new stint as president, Dalmiya
could not be actively involved in the
working of the BCCI due to failing
On 17 September 2015, he suffered a
massive cardiac arrest and was
admitted to the BM Birla Hospital in
Kolkata. Three days later he died. The
cause of death was reported to be
gastrointestinal bleeding and organ
After his death, Dalmiya’s eyes were
donated to Vanmukta Eye Bank in the
city. Among those who sent
condolences for Dalmiya’s death were
President of India Pranab Mukherjee,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief
Minister of West Bengal Mamata
Banerjee, current and former
cricketers, ICC and various national
cricket boards.

Jagmohan Dalmiya: The man who commercialised cricket and shifted the power centre to India

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