Former India captain and World Cup winner Kapil Dev was invited to speak about his relationship with the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, whose efforts led the way in making India a financial powerhouse in cricket. Below is the transcript
I’m nervous to talk about cricket. But if you tell me to come and speak about Jagmohan Dalmiya, I do not know what to say about him because in my mind he was truly one of the finest heroes we have.
There are two types of heroes. One is on the field and one is off the field and I think if I have to say about him, if all of us, we cricketers are enjoying [ourselves, it is] thanks to this man. Without him I think we would have been struggling. Already a lot of things have been said about him, I only want to say in the last 50 years in the world, he was the best administrator in all sports. When India used to struggle, we always looked up to England and Australia, and we used to say ‘Can we get wages like Australia, England?’. That was the thought process. In 20 years, all these countries will say, ‘Can we get wages like India?’ and that is the change he did.
Sometimes for players it does not really matter when we are on the field, when we play the game. But it is important to get good money. Jagmohan Dalmiya understood that these cricketers have a career of only 10 to 15 years maximum. Everybody is not Sachin Tendulkar, who can play for 24 years. Eight years and 10 years and you give your prime time and what money does in those 15 years of cricket, if you can make the life the same you have today. That tells a lot and that credit goes to my hero.
When I met him first, he did not make that much of an impression on me. As I kept on meeting him, I think I had realised that he was not the best of speakers but there was none better than him to understand word by word, full stop to comma, what is right, what is wrong. Nobody has done better contracts than this man. That was his strength. Let’s say, everybody does not have the art of speaking. Some people can write well. But this man was one of those persons who understood where he could nail down other people.
The best part is that he kept everybody happy. We cricketers of that 80s batch, the first time we thought that the cricket board came close to the players [was under Dalmiya]. Otherwise the board was far away from the players and players were far away from the board. The players came close to the board.
Before that [it was like] might is right. Whatever the board said, nobody could question the cricket control board of India. But Jagmohan Dalmiya said no to that. He said we needed to have dialogue. I think half of the battle was won for the players. The administration was ready to listen to you. He had given the opportunity.
A lot of administrators have seen and had been there with the board. But for him, love of the game and passion of the game brought the cricketers together. I do not think we had the guts or had any board president invited for a cup of tea or coffee. They used to get orders and that is how it used to run. But he changed for the betterment of the game. I do not know the inside stories of this part of the world. But I’m sure he was instrumental in bringing the cricketers together and the people who bring people together, they are leaders. In my mind, he was the leader to get things done.
From there Sourav [Ganguly, the CAB president] asked me do not talk too much about Dalmiya, talk about cricket, but also about Indian cricket. I just want to tell the present Indian cricket team, we always respect players from CK Nayadu to Amarnath to Vinoo Mankad, Hazare, Merchant, Polly Umrigar. From time to time cricket has changed, Tiger Pataudi, Bishen Singh Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and then another batch came. Sunil Gavaskar, Viswanath, and then another batch came, which was a big change. Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh. During that period I think we got the best cricketers of all time and after that the great Dhoni, Yuvraj and now baton is in your hand, Virat.
I think you can take Indian team ahead because you have the responsibility. You are the one people look up to and we look up to you. Take the game to where nobody can imagine. You are a hero and you are like Dalmiya. You can change the things, which you have done this year or last few years is the fitness which I can be proud of. It is required in Indian cricket. Every captain comes out with something new; new thought process, new way of thinking. I think that is more important. We, as cricketers, can say you keep up the good work. We love you all.