Jaywant Lele, the former BCCI secretary, has died of a heart attack aged 75 in Baroda on Thursday. Lele took over the post in 1996 and it was during his tenure when the match-fixing scandal broke out in 2000.
In that period, the board first set up the Justice Chandrachud Commission to probe the match-fixing charges and then asked the CBI to step in after the former South African captain Hansie Cronje admitted to fixing. The investigation led to life bans on the former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin and batsman Ajay Sharma.
Lele lost his post as secretary to Niranjan Shah during the 2001 board elections. He was gearing up for a return to cricket administration in the forthcoming Baroda Cricket Association (BCA).
A former engineer with Sarabhai Chemicals, Lele became the honorary secretary of the BCA in 1969. In 2003, he was expelled from the BCA, along with two other administrators, for alleged financial irregularities and administrative lapses.
The outspoken Lele was never short of a colourful quote. Before India's tour of Australia in 1999-2000, a journalist overheard a private conversation in which Lele had predicted that India would lose 3-0. India did lose 3-0. Two years ago, he penned a memoir titled I Was There - Memoirs of a Cricket Administrator.
Lele was also a qualified umpire.
While BCCI president N Srinivasan stated he was "shocked to hear the sad demise" of Lele, Sachin Tendulkar said he will miss Lele. "He always had wonderful words of encouragement for me and genuinely wished well for me," Tendulkar told Mid-Day. "He was a wonderful person and a well-wisher of mine. I can never forget the interactions we have had over the years. I will miss him."
Malcolm Speed, the former chief executive of Cricket Australia and the ICC, said that Lele was "energetic and reliable". "I thoroughly enjoyed working with him when I was the chief executive of Cricket Australia. He would always make sure that the relationships between various cricket boards remained cordial," Speed said. "There are so many special memories that I have of him. He was a lively and colourful character who would ensure that he will be fondly remembered as a cricket administrator and a person. I am deeply saddened by his untimely passing away."