Arun Jaitley bid adieu to the world on 24th of August, an ocean of tributes from fans, followers and colleagues followed next. Arun Jaitley was a man who touched many lives. He was an acclaimed lawyer and an accomplished cabinet minister who is credited for having mentored the second line of leadership in the BJP. But there is a rather unknown side of Jaitley too. Jaitley, was an avid cricket fan and he singlehandedly led the revival of cricket in Delhi. As of today, Delhi is the dominant cricket zone in India, a tag that Mumbai has enjoyed since time immemorial. In order to commemorate the contribution of Arun Jaitley towards the revival of Delhi in the cricketing sphere, the stadium at Feroz Shah Kotla, the oldest cricket stadium in the country will now be named after him. The renaming of Delhi’s famous cricket stadium after Arun Jaitley will be officiated on September 12. The function will also mark the naming of a stand after prolific batsman and India’s current captain Virat Kohli.
Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) has called naming of the stadium after Jaitley a ‘fitting tribute’. Arun Jaitley donned multiple hats and was an excellent cricket administrator apart from being a lawyer, a politician and a trouble-shooter. He was the president of the DDCA from 1999 to 2013 and is credited with the renovation of the stadium. He played key role in bringing world class facilities to Feroz Shah Kotla. Jaitley gave the stadium world-class dressing rooms and other cricketing facilities,” said DDCA President Rajat Sharma.
During Jaitley’s tenure as President of DDCA, many cricketers from the state made it to Indian National Cricket team including current captain Virat Kohli. Other big names to emerge from Delhi during Jaitley’s terms at DDCA are explosive batsman Virender Sehwag, maverick southpaw Shikhar Dhawan, fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra, another talented southpaw Gautam Gambhir and cricketer turned commentator Aakash Chopra.
Gautam Gambhir, the former left handed opener whose career peak coincided with Jaitley’s term at DDCA expressed happiness over the decision. “I am very happy because he deserves this. He gave Delhi a world-class stadium with world-class facilities. It (renaming of stadium) is a good thing but it would have been much better if it was renamed when he was alive. It would have been a perfect gift for him,” said Gambhir.
May he remain in our hearts forever. As a mark of respect to our beloved leader, I hereby propose to rename “Yamuna Sports Complex” as “Arun Jaitley Sports Complex” #RiPJaitleySir pic.twitter.com/ooK95RZHiQ
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) August 26, 2019
He also proposed to rename Yamuna sports complex as Arun Jaitley sports complex. “In my constituency, it is the biggest sports complex, Yamuna sports complex. I think it will be a perfect gift for him from me if Yamuna sports complex is renamed as Arun Jaitley sports complex. I have proposed it in the committee and if it gets clear, everyone will be happy, especially the East Delhi constituency,” said Gambhir.
Many former cricketers including ex- India opener Chetan Chauhan, Madan Lal and Vijay Dahiya also supported the move. “Jaitley deserves it. He was instrumental in getting the stadium constructed. It was in shambles earlier. He got all the permissions from different departments,” said Chauhan.
The Indian national cricket team was dominated by players from Mumbai till late 1990s. At one point of time ‘Bombay cricket represented Indian cricket’. Their complete dominance in the Ranji Trophy tournaments made Mumbai the clear leader in India’s cricketing world. Later prominent politicians like Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Manohar Joshi ensured that Mumbai stayed firmly in the driving seat. It is no mean feat that these 3 Ex CMs of the state have been Mumbai Cricket Association presidents. The state went on to produce some of the most well-known players in Indian cricket. One look at the list of players who made it to the Indian cricket team will be enough to ascertain the kind of dominance Mumbai enjoyed in Indian Cricket. Vinod Kambli, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ajit Agarkar, Yashwant Kanitkar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajit Vadekar, Dilip Sardesai, Pravin Amre, Sairaj Bahutule and Sandeep Patil are some names that immediately come to mind along with 2 all time greats Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar. This stranglehold of Mumbai over cricket was effectively challenged and broken by Arun Jaitley thereby giving Delhi-NCR a fair chance to participate.
The early 2000s marked the rise of Delhi based players in the team with most prominent of them being Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. In the subsequent years, many other players from Delhi made it to Indian National cricket team. The 2011 world cup winning squad has 4 players- Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, and Ashish Nehra from Delhi.
Delhi started to appear on the map of Indian cricket team after Arun Jaitley became the administrator at DDCA. His contribution to promote cricket in union territory of Delhi is unparalleled and therefore the renaming of stadium is a fitting tribute to him.