Dalmiya was a smart businessman, ultimate Bengal tiger: Ali Bacher

Johannesburg, Sep 22 (IANS) Former South Africa captain and cricket board’s managing director Ali Bacher hailed Jagmohan Dalmiya as a smart businessman and ultimate Bengal tiger who made India the financial powerhouse of world cricket.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Dalmiya died on Sunday night at the age of 75.

“I was very close to him in the early 1990s. I never met anybody who was so persistent in getting other administrators to support his point of view,” Bacher, who was a South African cricket board administrator, was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on Monday.

“He was a smart businessman and he was the start of creating an India as the financial powerhouse of world cricket it is now. He never understood the word no. He was the ultimate Bengal tiger. In the early part of 1991, we must have spoken 25 times and had developed a good relationship. He had received support in the BCCI to propose South Africa’s return at the scheduled June meeting.”

Bacher revealed that Dalmiya not only supported South Africa’s re-admission back in to the International Cricket Council (ICC) but ensured that the nation were back on the cricketing world map.

“Dalmiya wanted South Africa to replace Pakistan on their imminent scheduled tour of India. He saw a unique opportunity to get South Africa into India for the first time and I could see he wouldn’t let go. He was on a mission,” he said.

Recalling South Africa’s historic tour of India, Bacher said, “In November, 1991, we were in Kolkata for the first game and I asked Dalmiya who would be televising the games. He advised me it was the state broadcaster, Doordarshan, and that the BCCI would receive no payment. I then offered him a quarter of a million rand to ensure the games would be broadcast in South Africa for this historic tour.

“Dalmiya’s eyes lit up and he saw for the first time the possible financial television fees. That was the start of Dalmiya in the 1990s using the cricket market extensively to accrue huge television and sponsorship income for the benefit of Indian cricket. That is his legacy.”

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