Arun Jaitley (1952-2019)

Arun Jaitley | An administrator with cricket close to his heart

Arun Jaitley giving away the Man of the Match award to Javagal Srinath at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground in Delhi after an India-Zimbabwe match.

Arun Jaitley giving away the Man of the Match award to Javagal Srinath at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground in Delhi after an India-Zimbabwe match.   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Arun Jaitley will always be acknowledged for his seminal work as a cricket administrator with a vision. When he took over as the president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) in 1999, he inherited a legacy of corruption and ineptitude, which he endeavoured to eradicate.

Obituary | Arun Jaitley: A man who played many roles

“All I seek is support from the cricketers,” he had remarked to this reporter soon after he had assumed power at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Jaitley soon realised that it was not a smooth road as he had envisaged.

His elevation to the top brass of the DDCA sent out positive signals in the Capital’s cricket fraternity. Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi welcomed Jaitley with open arms and called him an administrator with cricket “close to his heart”. The expectations from Jaitley were high, given his reputation as a political and legal heavyweight.

Watch | Remembering Arun Jaitley, the affable public face of the BJP
 

Jaitley, a medium-pacer in his college days at the Shri Ram College of Commerce, lost little time in dealing with the challenges at the Kotla. The perennial issues that plagued Delhi cricket — corruption and nepotism in selections at the junior level — were on Jaitley’s radar. He issued strict instructions to selectors of all age groups and assured them of strong backing from the administration.

Clear message

The message at the Kotla was clear when he was at the helm. Cricket and cricketers were the priority. “I want to establish a cricket culture. Delhi has produced some of the greatest of players and the stadium should reflect and document their achievements,” was his view. The stadium became his ambitious project and hope rose among cricket lovers that finally the Capital would have a stadium befitting its status.

 

Jaitley, a cricket lover to the core, using the experience from his travels to England, worked to improve the infrastructure at the Kotla. “I want Kotla to boast of a reputation of a Lord’s. It can be done. I want every spectator to be seated comfortably and every seat accounted for. We must have a Long Room and create an atmosphere the Delhi cricketers can take pride in when playing at their home ground,” he had told a group of journalists when announcing the plans for the new stadium. Sadly, the stadium did not live up to his expectations. “Some of his close aides let him down,” said a former cricketer.

Win after 16 years

Cricket in Delhi improved during Jaitley’s tenure. After a gap of 16 years, Delhi won the Ranji Trophy in 2008. It was essentially because of the freedom that he gave the selectors to “fearlessly” pick the team purely on merit. This after he had sacked an entire senior selection committee comprising Anil Jain, Bantu Singh, Vivek Razdan and Sunil Khanna for “unfairly” picking a player in 2006. Jaitley would never tolerate “indiscipline”.

As former India opener Virender Sehwag said, “Arun ji was a gem. He backed the players. Did so much for the needy cricketers. Helped them get jobs, met their medical expenses, organised travel by air for all age groups. He was a players’ man in the top seat of DDCA. Delhi cricket and cricketers owe a lot to him. In his death, Delhi cricket has lost its most dedicated supporter.”

Jaitley, after 14 years at the DDCA, decided to “move on” to assume bigger responsibilities in the Central government.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 5:34:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/a-cricketers-administrator/article29249579.ece

Next Story