Arun Jaitley - Delhi cricket's visionary administrator

Former Delhi stalwarts elaborate on the late Arun Jaitley's service to cricket in the Capital.

Arun Jaitley during the launch of IPL's Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) franchise team in 2008.   -  Vijay Verma

Arun Jaitley’s death brings to an end an era of Delhi cricket where players earned rare respect at the Ferozeshah Kotla. His biggest contribution to the Capital was the renovated stadium, a personal “top priority” project of his, a modern venue which enhanced the spectator capacity and comfort.

Jaitley was elected unopposed in 1999 and remained in the position as president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) until 2013. Former India wicketkeeper Surender Khanna said, “he accomplished what others could not for more than 50 years. Delhi had an international standard stadium and it was possible only because of Arun ji.”

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The stadium, however, did not meet the expectations of Jaitley. He had planned a Long Room, an indoor facility, a state of the art dining area, but those involved in the construction let him down. It was not the cost escalation but the venue lacked the aesthetic value that Jaitley had visualised.

For Virender Sehwag, the passing away of Jaitley was a big blow for cricket in Delhi. “He was the best friend for any cricketer. It did not matter what level you played. He was always ready to help the cricketers. He had given us blanket permission to approach him any time and he would readily solve our issues with the administration. It was always a pleasure meeting him because he held the players in high esteem and looked after our needs from getting jobs to organising medical assistance,” said Sehwag.

Parmod Jain, a veteran cricket official, remembered Jaitley as “a man of words. He always had time for cricketers. He started a pension scheme for retired players and I know how it helped some who needed financial aid badly. Arun ji had a great vision to improve cricket in Delhi and he did succeed to a large extent during his tenure.”

According to Sehwag, Jaitley was a 'friend for any cricketer' and was always approachable. PHOTO: RAJEEV BHATT

 

Jain narrated an anecdote when the Delhi team, under Bishan Singh Bedi as the coach, complained of the “poor” hotel accommodation during a Ranji Trophy match in Jaipur. “On hearing the discomfort to the players, Arun ji ordered the team to be shifted to a five-star hotel. Only he could have done that and once the decision had been made he saw to it that Delhi players always stayed in decent hotels. He also ensured the club cricketers got good facilities in the local league.”

Former India opener Aakash Chopra called Jaitley a “caring guardian” with a nature to help everyone. “One could go to him for any help. His doors were always open for cricketers. He would call and ask if he could be of any help. He had a large heart to look after those who approached him for help. I got my job because of him.”