TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
JAGMOHAN Dalmiya’s death should have little impact on the rekindling of the relationship between Cricket SA (CSA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Dalmiya suffered a heart attack on Thursday and died in a Kokata hospital on Sunday, six months after he was elected BCCI president for a second time having first served in the post in 2001 and again in an interim, appointed capacity in 2013.
His return to the top this year came in the wake of India’s Supreme Court ruling, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption in the Indian Premier League, that his predecessor, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, could not stand for re-election.
Dalmiya’s presidency has seen the rebuilding of bridges between CSA and the BCCI – which had been all but destroyed during Srinivasan’s tenure because of the bad blood between him and CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, which harks back to Lorgat’s time as chief executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Under Srinivasan, India’s tour to SA in 2013 was shortened from a proposed 12 to five matches, which but for some fancy financial footwork would have cost CSA R318-million in lost revenue. On Saturday, SA leave for a tour of India – at 72 days their longest yet – that will feature four tests, five one-day internationals and three T20s.
But what might Dalmiya’s demise mean for CSA in future, especially as being on good terms with the BCCI, the godfather of world cricket, is vital to the national board of every other country where the game is played? What will change for SA’s suits?
Not a lot, Indian sources said on Tuesday. Instead, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur will continue to call the shots, as he did while Dalmiya was president, because of the latter’s failing health.
During Srinivasan’s time in charge, the impression was created that he alone towered uber alles in the game. Not quite. Srinivasan clambered upward with the strong support of a group of administrative henchmen who became known as the “Chennai mafia”.
Likewise, Dalmiya – who in the course of a career as an administrator that stretched back to 1979 was banned from attending BCCI meetings and arrested on embezzlement charges, though never tried – has his supporters.
Among them is Inderjit Bindra, himself a former BCCI president. Bindra is in the corner of another ex-BCCI boss, Sharad Pawar, who is expected to mount a bid to get his old job back now that Dalmiya is gone.
And it was Bindra who stood up for Lorgat when the BCCI tried to bully CSA into not appointing him, going so far as to write a letter to ICC directors in June 2013 in which he claimed Srinivasan “seeks to blackmail CSA”.
But it may be too soon for South Africans to sigh with relief. As well as being the BCCI’s buckstopper, Thakur is also a senior Member of Parliament for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – where Srinivasan has significant support.
Whether India’s government wants to take more direct control of cricket is moot. But what is known is that, in terms of the BCCI’s constitution, Thakur, as secretary, has 15 days in which to convene a meeting to elect a new president.