Kolkata | From his former rivals N Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar to the current BCCI heavyweights, the Indian cricket fraternity today bid an emotional farewell to Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was laid to rest with full state honour and gun salute.
The 75-year-old talismanic cricket administrator passed away at 8.45 pm last night following a massive cardiac arrest at the B M Birla Heart Research Centre where he was admitted on Thursday evening.
The news spread shock waves across the cricket fraternity who mourned the loss of the man who is credited for making the sport popular and rich, prompting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to announce a full state honours for the departed Dalmiya.
India’s top cricket administrators including , BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, ICC chairman Srinivasan, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, former presidents Sharad Pawar, Shashank Manohar gathered to pay their homage at Eden Gardens, where his body was kept for more than two hours.
The chief minister came around 3pm as it was time for the state guard of honour followed by a three-round gun salute by 10 Kolkata Police officials.
A senior member chanting ‘Dalmiya Amar Rahe’ (long live Dalmiya) put the national flag on the body as it began its final journey to Keoratala crematorium.
Banerjee, former India captain Sourav Ganguly along with state ministers and other CAB officials went to the crematorium to pay their homage as a pall of gloom descended on the city.
His son and daughter performed the last rites by placing the body on the wooden pyre with sandalwood at 4pm.
Earlier, accompanied by Ravi Shastri, BCCI secretary Thakur was the first to come and the duo first went to Dalmiya’s 10 Alipore Road residence from where the Team India director left for the national camp in Bengaluru.
Dalmiya’s last journey began from his residence at 12.15pm before arriving at his ‘second home’ Eden Gardens around 1 pm accompanied by son Avishek, daughter Vaishali and wife Chandralekha and other relatives.
Now a CAB joint secretary, Ganguly along with his colleague Subir Ganguly and treasurer accompanied the dignitaries while paying floral tributes to Dalmiya.
ICC chairman Srinivasan called it a a great loss for the cricket fraternity while IPL chairman Shukla also echoed the same sentiments, saying it would be hard to fill the void.
Giving credit to Dalmiya for revolutionising the sport, he said: When we won the 1983 World Cup the board didn’t have even 15 lakh money to reward the players and it was Lata Mangeshkar who had helped the Board.
From that crisis he made a way by selling TV rights and ensured that cricket reaches to all the countries and at the grassroots level. If we take into account of the domestic matches we conduct 55000 matches (every season), Srinivasan said.
He added, He ensured that everyone from state association to players get benefited. His vision and way of functioning not only took Indian cricket but the world cricket to greater heights. Because of him the Indian subcontinent got prominence in the ICC.
It’s very difficult to cope up with the crisis because there’s a big void. We will try our best to fulfill his vision and desire. We will run the Board in a manner by which his aspirations can be fulfilled.
Speculation has already started as to who would become the president and Shukla said it’s not the right time to talk about it.
The future will take its course. BCCI will go by the constitutional provisions. What he did to Indian cricket nobody could do. The way he expanded cricket to every nook and corner is unparalleled. The world cricket also benefited a lot. He virtually transformed ICC cricket concept.
Paying glowing tributes to Dalmiya, BCCI secretary Thakur said: He was a true sport administrator, a dynamic personality loved by everyone in India and abroad.
It’s a personal loss to me and the BCCI and to the game of cricket. He was a visionary leader a great sport administrator. He will be remembered to the world for bringing in reforms to the game of cricket, bringing in money, raising the standard of cricket in India by giving a lot of facilities to the players and developing infrastructure throughout the country. No one will be able to fill in the void.
Former chief administrative officer and current head of operations Prof Ratnakar Shetty said Dalmiya had taught him the nuances of cricket administration by holding his hands.
It’s a big loss for me because whatever I’m there at BCCI, I owe it to him a great deal. He actually held my hands and made me learn things, he revealed.
He has been a great administrator starting from getting monetisation for the broadcast of matches to fighting ICC wherever BCCI had aced problems. Becoming the first ICC president from India and also announcing the 26 percent share of gross revenue for the players was done under him.
Also the pension scheme for the retired cricketers was introduced first time during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Board. The new area development programme for the northeast states was also his creation. The way he used to handle crisis we could learn from him every time, Shetty said.
I would remember him for the way he handled the personal crisis himself. After giving yeomen service to Indian cricket he had trouble with the board and he got reelected to the board that shows the amount of respect and honour that people have for him. That’s something which is extraordinary. He passed away while in office as the president of the board. For every match at Eden Gardens he invited the former Test captains. No other centre has done that actually. We will always miss him.
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