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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
India's strong man
Jagmohan Dalmiya is a controversial force in world cricket

Jagmohan Dalmiya's re-election as president of India's cricket board will no doubt have caused a few grimaces in international cricketing circles.

And it will not have gone unnoticed that the power base of the Calcutta businessman has been strengthened during the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) elections.

Niranjan Shah, an ally of his predecessor as president, A.C. Muthiah, was replaced by a Dalmiya supporter, S.K. Nair, by a vote of 18-12 by the board's state representatives.

India needs a strong personality at the helm, especially in the battle with the ICC
Indian jounalist
Pradeep Vijayakar
During his stint as president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and in the last year at the helm of the BCCI, Dalmiya has unashamedly pursued an agenda of moving power towards Asia.

And that has rarely gone down well with the traditional big guns of Test cricket, especially Australia and England.

Since returning to the BCCI last September, he has portrayed the ICC not as a neutral leadership but as a vehicle for the establishment to keep control of the world game.

And his continual bickering has attempted to erode the centralised power of the game's governing body, in an attempt to keep decision-making for individual nations.

Sehwag controversy

Last October, he took issue with a disputed ruling by match referee Mike Denness in South Africa, threatening to cancel the tour and eventually supporting a match that was stripped of Test status by the ICC.

The row rumbled on as England's tour of India was put at risk when Dalmiya refused to leave batsman Virender Sehwag, banned by Denness, out of the Test squad.

Virender Sehwag
Sehwag's suspension became a cause celebre
He then took issue with the ICC's moves to set up a body to rule on controversial decisions in future, managing to change the committee members to his favoured candidates.

And he has had continual run-ins with Australian ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, the latest of which was the contract row over the ICC Champions Trophy.

With Pakistan's Ehsan Mani set to replace Australian Malcolm Gray as ICC president in June, there are fears that the Asian power block is growing.

But there is a belief, in India at least, that Dalmiya is merely defending his corner, albeit in an abrasive manner.

Pradeep Vijayakar, cricket correspondent of the Times of India, told BBC World Service that the image of Dalmiya as a trouble-maker was a misconception.

"There was a time when he had to do what he did," Vijayakar said.

"The international body was too strong, especially when the money was coming from Asia, and Dalmiya fought for his rights.

"India needs a strong personality at the helm, especially in the battle with the ICC."

Strong at home

But whatever his impact on the international game, Vijayakar believes that Dalmiya is exactly what is required in India.

He makes great use especially of money-spinning one-day internationals, apportioning the schedule to different states according to their political leanings.

"There is a need to keep all of the state presidents in check because there are lots of strong personalities.

ICC Chief executive Malcolm Speed
Speed and Dalmiya continually cross swords
"In that respect, Dalmiya is very necessary."

While ICC president, Dalmiya oversaw a massive increase in one-day tournaments worldwide, including what is now the ICC Champions Trophy, as well as opening up new territories such as Canada and Singapore.

And he is now in the process of pushing the game to the outposts of India, especially the north-east, where there is very little cricket played.

Vijayakar does admit, though, that at some point Dalmiya will have to shed his ego if he is to gain real change for India on the national stage.

"Somewhere down the line he will have to realise that he is doing more harm than good.

"He must realise that a fight with the ICC will get him nowhere, and it will only end in bickering."

Having continually been stalled by opposition from India, much of world cricket, wherever they stand in their support for Dalmiya, no doubt feels the same way.

See also:

19 Sep 02 | Cricket
03 Jul 02 | Cricket
23 Nov 01 | Cricket
30 Nov 01 | Cricket
22 Nov 01 | India in South Africa
20 Jul 01 | Corruption in Cricket
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