Kolkata: Indian World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev on Tuesday said that current skipper Virat Kohli was a leader like the late CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
“We look up to you (Kohli), you are our hero, much like Dalmiya (was off the field). You can change things and you have done this in terms of fitness which we all are proud of today.”
“Every captain comes out with something new and you have taken the fitness level to a new level. We, as cricketers, can say ‘keep up the good work’. You have the ability to believe in yourself, you can achieve the ultimate,” said Kapil, in his lecture at the inaugural Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave that was attended by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala and the members of the Indian and Sri Lankan teams. Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin was also present.
The legendary all-rounder continued further, “We have two type of heroes — one is off the field and another on the field. If cricketers are enjoying today it’s possible because of Dalmiya, without him we would have struggled.”
Kapil also labelled Dalmiya as the greatest cricket administrator in the past 50 years and added, “Earlier we would ask ‘can we get wages like Australia, England. Now all this has changed and they are now saying can we get wages like India. That has changed because of him.”
Dalmiya, a former BCCI and CAB president played an instrumental role in bringing the 1992 and 1996 World Cup to the sub-continent. Ever since he became a part of the BCCI in 1979, he has worked hard to make it the wealthiest body in the cricketing world.
Kapil also said that the legendary administrator quickly figured out that a cricketer’s career can stretch from eight to 10 years.
He said, “It’s important to have money on your side and Dalmiya understood that. Not everyone is Sachin Tendulkar, you only get to play 15-20 years at max and you are at your prime for eight-10 years. He ensured that you make your life in that career, that credit goes to my hero.
“He wasn’t the best of speakers but he was instrumental in bringing everybody together, a true leader who got things done. He was the hero of every cricketer in our country. What we are today is because of this man,” he also added.
Sumathipala recalled Dalmiya’s support when Sri Lankan spin maestro was accused of chucking in 1995.
He said, “He was born with leadership qualities and negotiation skills by understanding and hearing all parties and settle the dispute at the best interest of everyone.
“After we won the World Cup I was representing Sri Lanka at the ICC annual meeting in London where we had another issue to settle — the suspect action of Muralitharan. He helped us in addressing umpires and referees.”