Johannesburg: Former South Africa captain Ali Bacher has paid rich tributes to late BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, describing him as a smart businessman, who made India the financial powerhouse of world cricket.
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. He was a smart businessman and he was the start of creating an India as the financial powerhouse of world cricket it is now," Bacher was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Bacher also termed Dalmiya, who served as the former president of the ICC as well, the ultimate Bengal tiger. "He never understood the word no. He was the ultimate Bengal tiger," Bacher, who was the managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa in the 1990s, said.
Bacher said Dalmiya was instrumental in South Africa's re-admission into the International Cricket Council and he also ensured that the country was back on the cricketing field.
"In the early part of 1991, we must have spoken 25 times and we had developed a good relationship. He had received support in the BCCI to propose South Africa's return at the scheduled June meeting," recalled Bacher.
The former skipper said after some little hiccup, South Africa were accepted back into international cricket. "At that meeting we were accepted back into international cricket. We weren't looking for an immediate return to the playing field, we just wanted to be part of the big family," Bacher revealed.
Remembering South Africa's historic tour of India in 1991, Bacher recollected: "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," he recalled.