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Old February 27th, 2003, 06:15 AM
desinetcharge desinetcharge is offline
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Jagmohan Dalmiya Article

Fron Wall St Journal,00.html

One Man's Drive Helped Make
Cricket Into a Big-Money Game

An Indian Construction Magnate Turned
Boyhood Passion Into Sponsorship Bonanza

When India triumphed over England last summer in a cricket match at Lord's stadium in London, the first thing the winners did was flout tradition. With graying men in jackets and ties looking on, the captain of India's team stripped off his grimy shirt and twirled it in the air. Indian fans whipped out national flags and blew horns. The players took a victory lap.

That kind of showboating may be common in the National Football League, but not on the prim cricket grounds at Lord's, the symbolic home for nearly two centuries of what's fondly been called "the gentleman's game." One English fan, summoning the name of the stadium's founder, wrote on one of India's most popular Web sites, "Thomas Lord was presumably turning violently in his grave."

Far away in Calcutta, though, one man was all smiles. Jagmohan Dalmiya, a 62-year-old Indian construction magnate who heads the country's cricket association, had conducted a long crusade to drag cricket out of its clubby past and into the world of big-money sports. The results are on display at cricket's thriving World Cup, a quadrennial event now under way in South Africa. The pageantry there includes grounds plastered with Pepsi logos and jazzy pregame shows packed with advertising. Sony Corp.'s Indian arm paid an unprecedented sum -- more than $200 million -- for the rights to broadcast in India the current World Cup and the next one.

Mr. Dalmiya has succeeded in attracting once-unimaginable sums of money to a game little-known in the U.S., and cracking the grip of the sport's largely British establishment. He began shaking up the genteel world of cricket about a decade ago, when he fought his way to the top of the sport's ruling body. He won support from countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia, developing-world brethren that also adopted cricket under British rule.

Once in charge of cricket's global governing body, the International Cricket Council, Mr. Dalmiya set out on a quest to use the sport's millions of fans, many quite poor, to create a money-making enterprise. For the ICC, the World Cup has attracted $188 million, double the revenue of the last tournament. India, a nation packed with cricket fanatics, accounts for more than half the total take.

Cricket still isn't in the same league as pro sports in the U.S. The world-wide cricket business, including sponsorship dollars, broadcast rights and ticket sales, amounts to roughly $250 million a year, Mr. Dalmiya estimates, and probably more in a World Cup year. U.S. broadcast networks, by contrast, routinely pay double that annually to televise "Monday Night Football."

Still, his success shows how sports marketing can drive sales in the developing world, improving the fortunes of PepsiCo Inc. and Sony, in addition to Coca-Cola Co., Honda Motor Co. and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. "Cricket made us an overnight brand in India," says Ganesh Mahalingam, the country's head of sales and marketing for LG, which uses cricket to sell refrigerators, washing machines, TVs and microwaves.

'Money Isn't Everything'

To some British guardians of cricket's past, the pursuit of money has also brought the problems of big-time sports: match-fixing scandals, players who care more about endorsements than matches and a general loss of decorum. "Money isn't everything," says Ted Dexter, a senior official at the Marylebone Cricket Club, England's oldest, headquartered at Lord's. "I don't think so far that India has necessarily proved its propensity for integrity and responsibility to the world cricket community."

Mr. Dalmiya, a strict vegetarian with slicked back hair who wears open-collared "safari" shirts favored by Indian executives in the 1970s, has a simple response. "To be frank," he says, "I never cared."

For many Americans, cricket remains a cultured, if incomprehensible, game played by Englishmen in sweaters who break for tea. But today, the sport is actually centered in the Indian subcontinent. "The usual cliche is that this isn't a sport, it's a religion," says Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the ICC. But, he adds, "I've not seen anything like India." Earlier this month, some Indian cricket fans were so incensed by a poor performance from their team at the World Cup that they vandalized players' homes. Last September, when a cricket-sponsorship dispute arose, Indian fans burned Mr. Speed in effigy.

Yuvraj Singh of India hits the ball during his team's victory over England Wednesday at the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Descended from a prominent trading community from India's state of Rajasthan, Mr. Dalmiya grew up obsessed with cricket. He practiced every chance he got on Calcutta's dusty, hot pitches -- the alleyways between the player who throws, or bowls, the ball, and the batsman.

At 19, after his father's death, Mr. Dalmiya took over the family's large construction business, M.L. Dalmiya & Co., in Calcutta. He kept playing in one of the city's numerous cricket clubs and got involved in the organizations that oversaw them. In 1983, Mr. Dalmiya joined the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the top administrative body for the sport. Back then, socialist-inspired economic policies still held sway in India. A single state-run broadcaster, Doordarshan, ruled the airwaves and paid nothing for cricket matches.

That started to change in 1991, when the Indian government began to open industries to greater competition, sell off stakes in state-run businesses and court foreign investment. A slew of multinational companies arrived, eager to tap into the growing middle class. What the economic changes would mean for cricket wasn't immediately clear to the men who led the sport.

But the potential began to dawn on them when the South African cricket squad traveled to India for some matches and wanted to buy rights to broadcast the games back home. "We had no clue what money to ask for," recalls Amrit Mathur, the communications director for India's cricket board. After some deliberation, it decided to seek $20,000. The South Africans, however, opened negotiations with a bid closer to $200,000. The gold rush was on.

Mr. Dalmiya, who became secretary for the Indian cricket board in 1993, helped cement a deal with ESPN, one of the first foreign broadcasters to enter India. The price of television rights spiraled. "We had never tapped the consumer market," says Mr. Dalmiya. "We had never told companies what mileage they would be able to get."

Changes in the game also helped. Cricket is played by two teams of 11 people, who take turns batting with a long, rectangular stick. As with baseball, there are several ways to be called out. The primary one is when the pitcher, called a bowler, manages to knock the top off the wicket, or the sticks arranged behind the batter. Scores can total in the hundreds.

The traditional way to play the game is a test match, which can play out for as long as five full days. But since the 1970s, cricket teams have also taken part in one-day matches, which are more suspenseful and have gained a huge following in the subcontinent.

Even as cricket grew in India, little changed back in England at the sleepy ICC, which is also headquartered at Lord's. Set in the tony London neighborhood of St. John's Wood, the ICC did little but set regulations for international matches. The annual gathering was "a nice gentleman's meeting where we had dinner, talked, exchanged views on cricket ... and went home," says Ehsan Mani, ICC vice president.

They got a wake-up call in 1993, when Pakistan and India, with the support of smaller cricket-playing countries, mounted a bid to hold the next World Cup on the Subcontinent -- even though England was due to host it. In a meeting at Lord's that dragged on until midnight, the split between cricket's new money and old privilege burst into the open. Finally, a compromise was reached: the Subcontinent would hold the next global tournament, in 1996, and England the one after that.

Orchestrated Campaign

Next, Mr. Dalmiya set his eye on the top spot of the international cricket body. Though past presidents were chosen by polite consensus, Mr. Dalmiya ran an orchestrated campaign for the leadership in 1996. He wooed the long-neglected outposts of the cricket world -- including Bangladesh, Malaysia and Singapore -- with promises that he would globalize the game and get them more money to develop the sport in their countries. They'd never heard such vows from the international organization. Mr. Dalmiya "just pushes, pushes, pushes," says Chris Pianca, head of the Singapore Cricket Association. "All of us embraced his ideas."

At the leadership showdown at Lord's, the board listened to presentations from the candidates: Malcolm Gray, a no-nonsense real-estate executive from Australia, South African Krish Mackerdhuj and Mr. Dalmiya. Though Mr. Dalmiya ultimately garnered more votes than his closest challenger, Mr. Gray, the ICC brass upheld a technical provision that required a winner to be backed by two-thirds of the delegates from nine top cricket countries. Neither candidate had that tally.

The Indians held a press conference to protest the decision. It took the better part of a year to work out a deal that ended the standoff: Mr. Dalmiya did become ICC President in June 1997, but there would be no further elections. Instead, it was decided, the post would rotate from one country to another.

The whole spat was effectively a protest against England and Australia, which had long dominated the sport. It was, says Inderjit Singh Bindra, President of the Punjab Cricket Association, "like throwing English tea in Boston harbor."

Mr. Dalmiya took over a group in financial tatters. The ICC, he says, had less than £20,000 ($32,000 at today's exchange rates). So he quickly organized a major new tournament, the ICC Knock-Out Trophy. He pushed sponsorship and TV deals, and encouraged matches in obscure but lucrative locations such as Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Three years later, at the end of his term, the ICC had $15 million in hand and an unprecedented seven-year television and sponsorship contract valued at $550 million with an arm of News Corp.

With the money of big-time sports, though, came new headaches. In early 2000, Indian police and a muckraking Indian Web site uncovered match-fixing in professional cricket involving members of the Indian and South African teams. Several players were banned from the sport for life and a new anticorruption unit was eventually created within the ICC.

During the scandals, Mr. Dalmiya himself came under the spotlight. Allegations of potential fraud surfaced in the Indian media surrounding his involvement in TV deals for the first ICC Knock-Out Trophy, held in 1998. The Central Bureau of Investigation, India's version of the FBI, later searched Mr. Dalmiya's house in connection with the allegations but never charged him with anything. Mr. Dalmiya says he did nothing improper.

Even some critics acknowledge that Mr. Dalmiya left behind an organization that is more professional, diverse and attuned to commercial possibilities than ever before. His mantra of globalizing the game is now an accepted principle. Mr. Speed, the current CEO, proudly points out that the organization now has 84 member nations, up from 47 six years ago.

While the current World Cup set off a rush of sponsorship and ad spending by companies seeking an audience in India, the tournament has also been dogged by controversy. England refused to play in Zimbabwe, the venue for some of the matches, because of security concerns. Mr. Dalmiya in turn accused the ICC of "bending over backward" to accommodate the English team. In the end, though, the ICC ruled that the English team would forfeit its points for that match.

Mr. Dalmiya continues to needle the game's leaders. One serious dispute currently pits the ICC itself, which doles out sponsorships for cricket events, against Indian star players, who have increasingly won personal endorsements with advertisers. Pepsi, for example, sponsors ICC tournaments, while Coke has signed on with one of India's top stars. The ICC maintains that under previous contracts it signed with the Indian board, the ICC sponsorship deals take precedence over any ones the players have signed. But Mr. Dalmiya has supported the players in contesting the council's interpretation. The matter will go before an international arbitration court.

Meanwhile, being back in charge in India keeps Mr. Dalmiya closer to Calcutta's massive and raucous Eden Gardens stadium. Mr. Dalmiya says he'll take that any day over the sedate stands at Lord's. "I don't think there's the same electricity anywhere else," he says.
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Old September 20th, 2015, 12:13 PM
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Re: Jagmohan Dalmiya Article

He is no more now. RIP
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was admitted to hospital few days back after he complained of chest pain, passed away at a city hospital this evening following a massive cardiac arrest. - See more at:
This is quite a game, politics. There are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends,only permanent interests. - Some Firang
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Old September 20th, 2015, 12:26 PM
werewolf2 werewolf2 is offline
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Re: Jagmohan Dalmiya Article

Fond memories. 1990s and 2000s. Nostalgia. Sigh!
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