Lalit Kumar Modi
November 29, 1963, Delhi, India
Sharp, brash, ruthlessly ambitious, and admired and reviled in equal measure, Lalit Modi changed the landscape of cricket before exiting the stage controversially, and as dramatically as he entered it. The Indian Premier League, the multi-million-dollar, football-style, franchise-based domestic league, which Modi conceived and executed with spectacular success, has hurtled cricket to the fast lane, forcing the traditionalists to follow suit even while squirming. The tournament, first held in 2008, consolidated India's position as cricket's economic powerhouse, and consequently, its premier agenda-setter.
Modi's rise to the top rung of Indian cricket was as fast as it was stunning. Scion of a leading Indian business family, he began his career as an adversary of the Indian cricket board in the early 90s when he was trying to build a business out of distributing sports pay channels. He knew even then that live sports was one of the few things the Indian television consumer would pay for but soon realised the best way to beat the system was to join it. However, it was not until 2005, when he became the youngest vice-president of the BCCI, that he came into prominence. He soon became the driving force of the board's commercial activities and pushed its revenues over the US$1 billion mark. His abrasive and confrontational approach - among other things, he accused the ICC of harbouring a neo-colonial bias - didn't win him many friends in international cricket and there were rumblings of opposition within the BCCI as well. The end came from an unexpected controversy - revelations over the auction of two new IPL franchises - and was swift. Fifteen days after his initial indiscreet tweet Modi was served his suspension notice by the BCCI, ironically moments after an emotional closing ceremony to the 2010 IPL final. The fallout has been messy and prolonged, with Modi taking on his former bosses at various legal and institutional levels, ensuring he remains in the headlines.
Cricinfo Staff September 2010
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