At a time when the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) relations with some cricketing boards is at its coldest, the BCCI has lost one of its finest administrators in Jaywant Lele.
A massive heart attack at his Baroda home on Thursday night caused 75-year-old Lele’s death.
In his time as secretary of the BCCI (late 1990s and early 2000s), Lele displayed the kind of transparency that current Board officials would never indulge in. Sure, Lele had favourites in the media, but he was generally open to revealing financial figures, schedules and of course his opinion in his typical no-nonsense style, to anyone who wanted to know.
This does not mean Lele was an embarrassment to his establishment. Things that had to be confidential stayed that way.
While he respected his seniors in the BCCI, he did not hesitate to speak out when they walked the wrong path. The late BCCI president Raj Singh Dungarpur was Lele’s close friend but the latter was not coy to disagree on certain issues. And Raj Singh took that sportingly!
At all times Lele emphasised that the Secretary is the supreme authority in the day-to-day running of the Board. And his work spoke for itself.
He was tight-fisted when it came to spending on luxury. For example, he didn’t think it was a good idea to allow players to live in single rooms on tours, something that was granted ultimately.
Lele saved BCCI money himself. He didn’t believe in staying at five-star hotels at the drop of a hat. After every trip to Mumbai, he returned home to Baroda by the evening train.
We’d love to say, ‘may his tribe increase’. But sadly, there are none like Lele.