Kolkata: Paying rich tribute to Jagmohan Dalmiya who passed away recently, Cricket Association of Bengal president-designate Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday said that the former BCCI chief was one administrator who had only friends all over the world.
Dalmiya, who passed away on September 20, occupied all the top positions in cricket administration in the state, national and international level since his foray in 1977.
"The one thing that would remain forever in my mind was people remembered him fondly wherever I went across the world. You don't always remain in power, that's the law of nature. He was not the president always but despite that wherever I went, be it New Zealand, the West Indies, England or Pakistan everybody sent him 'salaam'," Ganguly said in CAB's condolence meeting.
"In Pakistan, people would say 'unko mera salaam dena', in England they would say, 'do send him my regards'. When you become an administrator, you have friends and enemies but he was one person who had well wishers all over the world," he said.
The condolence meeting was attended by former India batsmen Sanjay Manjrekar and VVS Laxman, BCCI joint secretary Amitabh Choudhary, the CAB office bearers, senior members and Dalmiya's family at Eden Gardens.
Ganguly said it was a "proud" moment that till the last, Dalmiya was at the pinnacle of cricket administration.
"I don't know how to address him, whether as Jaguda or Mr Dalmiya, so I'm addressing him as 'sir' today," an emotional Ganguly said.
"I'm personally very sad that I would not be able to see him in the president's chair, and not at his residence. But you can say I'm proud that till last he was at the peak, as the BCCI president," said Ganguly, who has been named the next CAB president.
"I began playing cricket, when he was the president. He was like a companion in my cricket career though I could hardly meet him, touring all over with the team."
Dalmiya is survived by wife Chandralekha, daughter Vaishali, son Avishek, daughter-in-law Koeli and grandson Aditya. Ganguly said he and the CAB would always be there with the bereaved family.
"I lost my dad two years ago and when we're having the concluding rituals at home, sir told me he was there for me always. Now I tell his family that we will be with you whenever you need us. We're just one phone call away. We pray that his soul rest in peace," Ganguly said.
Welcoming Ganguly's appointment as the next CAB president, Manjrekar said the former India captain should make Dalmiya his role model in cricket administration.
"It's really fitting perhaps that Sourav Ganguly who in many was Dalmiya's protege is now taking over the reins. I hope he makes Dalmiya as his role model. I wish him all the best and hope that he takes the Indian cricket forward," Manjrekar said.
Remembering Dalmiya, Manjrekar further said: "He was an administrator with a cricketing heart. Despite cricket raking in the moolah, Dalmiya still valued the significance of Test cricket and the Asian Test Championship was his brainchild. It showed the love he had for the game.
Laxman said it was Dalmiya's legacy that Indian cricketers are so well treated all over the world.
"It's a big loss to the entire cricket fraternity he was the first person who realised the true value of cricket. I remember he was in the conference call of the first cricket advisory committee meeting here and he was very excited for the future of Indian cricket after their victory in Sri Lanka series," he said.
Laxman said the World Cup in 1996 was the turning point in Indian cricket.
"Since then we never looked back... His work will go on. It's everyone responsibility over here to make sure that not only Bengal but Indian Cricket reaches where it should be. We all are really proud of Dalmiyaji," Laxman said.