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Full name Jagmohan Dalmiya
Born May 30, 1940, Calcutta, India
Current age 74 years 303 days
A master of realpolitik and a genius with money, Jagmohan Dalmiya is the man most responsible for turning the gentleman's game into a global sport of big money and a reach well beyond its traditional bastions. Dalmiya was born into the Marwari business community of Kolkata, and cricket and money were equal passions for him. He was a club-standard wicketkeeper, who once made a double-century. At 20 he took over his father's construction business, but it was in the business of cricket that he would make his name. He joined the BCCI in 1979, and was one of the young turks - Inderjit Singh Bindra was another - who helped win the right to stage the World Cup in India in 1987. That brought big money into the subcontinent, and Dalmiya and Bindra led the commercialisation of the game through the early '90s, making the BCCI the richest cricket board on the planet. Personal ambition led to a rift between the two, and Dalmiya emerged better off - the man who hasn't lost an election in his life was elected chairman of the International Cricket Council in 1997. His commercial skills and flair for striking deals turned round the cash-strapped ICC's fortunes. But the Establishment hated Dalmiya's unconventional ways, and he was jettisoned after a TV-rights controversy in 2000. He left ICC a bitter man, but was back in action soon enough, getting himself elected president of the BCCI in 2001. When Mike Denness high-handedly doled out punishments to five Indian players in November that year, Dalmiya courted controversy by belligerently taking on ICC on their behalf. He pulled the strings in the acrimonious BCCI election in 2004, when his casting vote helped Ranbir Singh Mahendra triumph, but he was beaten in his own game a year later, in his own fiefdom of Kolkata, when Sharad Pawar prevailed by a resounding margin. Smelling blood his opponents went in for the kill - he was banned from BCCI meetings, an FIR was filed against him etc - but the provocation seemed to energise Dalmiya, who once again proved the survivor he is by rewinning, against heavy odds, the presidential elections for the Cricket Association of Bengal in July 2006. Five months later the BCCI expelled him on charges of embezzling funds from the 1996 World Cup and he was forced to step down as CAB chief. Then followed lengthy legal battles but, in July 2007, he was allowed to contest elections again. This he did exactly one year later, and won back the CAB presidency by an overwhelming margin.
Amit Varma (July 2008)