On Tuesday, India’s first World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev did a comparison between current Indian skipper Virat Kohli and the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, he said that both of them are heroes on and off the field.
While delivering a lecture in the inaugural Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave along with Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala, Kapil said, “We look up to you (Kohli), you are our hero, much like Dalmiya (was off the field). You can change things and you have done this in terms of fitness which we all are proud of. Every captain comes out with something new and you have taken the fitness level to a new level. We, as cricketers, can say ‘keep up the good work’. You have the ability to believe in yourself, you can achieve the ultimate.”
Even Mohammed Azharuddin attended the event along with the Indian and Sri Lankan players. Praising the Dalmiya’s cricket administration, Dev said, “We have two type of heroes — one is off the field and another on the field. If cricketers are enjoying today it’s possible because of Dalmiya, without him we would have struggled. Earlier we would ask ‘can we get wages like Australia, England. Now all this has changed and they are now saying can we get wages like India. That has changed because of him.”
A businessman known for his marketing intelligence, Dalmiya played a crucial role in bringing the 1987 and 1996 cricket World Cups to the sub-continent and took over as BCCI president for a second time after a gap of almost a decade. He passed away on September 20, 2015. Since joining the BCCI in 1979, Dalmiya didn’t leave any stone unturned in helping the board to emerge as the wealthiest cricket board in the world
Describing more about Dalmiya, Kapil said, “It’s important to have money on your side and Dalmiya understood that. Not everyone is Sachin Tendulkar, you only get to play 15-20 years at max and you are at your prime for eight-10 years. He ensured that you make your life in that career, that credit goes to my hero. He wasn’t the best of speakers but he was instrumental in bringing everybody together, a true leader who got things done. He was the hero of every cricketer in our country. What we are today is because of this man.”
Sumathipala remembered Dalmiya’s support during the hard times when their ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was alleged of throwing in 1995. He said, “He was born with leadership qualities and negotiation skills by understanding and hearing all parties and settle the dispute at the best interest of everyone. After we won the World Cup I was representing Sri Lanka at the ICC annual meeting in London where we had another issue to settle — the suspect action of Muralitharan. He helped us in addressing umpires and referees.”