Kolkata, July 27 :
“He is a bachcha (child). It’s not right to talk about bachchas,” Jagmohan Dalmiya had thus dismissed Sourav Ganguly eight years back, minutes after winning a fiercely contested Cricket Association of Bengal presidential election, where the talismanic cricketer had turned against the seasoned administrator.
The wheel seemed to have turned full circle Sunday, as Ganguly formally started a new innings as cricket administrator with Dalmiya’s blessings – as part of the CAB president’s official panel.
But it was another Sunday night in 2006 that Dalmiya – up against an intimidating grouping of senior political functionaries in power at the central and state level, administrative officials and sports bodies – got re-elected scraping past by five votes then city Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee, handpicked by then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to defeat him.
In the run-up to the high-voltage annual general meeting July 30 that year, Bhattacharjee had led a chorus asking the cricket czar to stay away from the polls. Some of Dalmiya’s rivals, backed from behind the curtains by the country’s top cricket functionaries Sharad Pawar and I.S. Bindra, had even asked Dalmiya to step aside “for his own good”.
But Dalmiya stood firm, and filed his nomination for the top CAB post.
Days before the CAB elections, Ganguly – long considered Dalmiya’s protege – joined his detractors by sending an email, accusing the ruling faction of “playing” with his career.
Ganguly, at that time discarded from the Indian team, alleged that Dalmiya’s faction had leaked then Indian coach Greg Chappell’s email to the board. Chappell’s email, containing damaging comments about Ganguly as a player and captain, had triggered a controversy after its contents were leaked.
It came as a surprise to many, who knew the chemistry the duo shared for years, and which was cemented during Dalmiya’s reign in the Indian cricket board that coincided with Ganguly’s stint as India captain.
It was in that scenario that Dalmiya made the “bachcha” remark, as the clock’s hands turned into the wee hours of Monday.
However, Dalmiya could not retain the CAB chair, and stepped down by the end of that year after his expulsion from the board which accused him of wrongdoings in connection with the 1996 world cup.
But in 2008, Dalmiya again threw his hat into the ring for the top CAB post against the incumbent Mukherjee. He won convincingly, and still continues in the hot seat.
Since then, the two have enjoyed a hot and cold relationship.
There had been consistent speculation over the past four-five years of Ganguly entering the CAB administration in a big way. Time and again the anti-Dalmiya faction had made it known to the media that they were trying to persuade him to take on the former ICC chief. But every time the build-up ended in an anti-climax.
Dalmiya had then told his confidantes that if Ganguly was to come to cricket administration, it would be as part of his panel.
For the last couple of years, Dalmiya had been drafting Ganguly into CAB sub-committee – cricket development, coaching etc.
On Sunday, Dalmiya welcomed Ganguly into full-time cricket administration.
“When I was the BCCI president, he was the captain. As a team we did well. And I hope this team will again do a great job,” he said.
However, with Dalmiya ageing — he is now all of 74 years old, cricketing circles feel Ganguly’s anointment as CAB joint secretary could usher in a new age in the CAB in the coming years, when the former Indian captain is most likely to play a bigger role in the association’s affairs.