Jaywant Lele, the diminutive former BCCI secretary during whose tenure the match-fixing scandal broke out in 2000, passed away at his residence here following a massive heart attack.
Lele breathed his late on Thursday night. He was 75 and is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.
The outspoken Lele, who served as BCCI's assistant secretary and later took over the reins as the secretary when Jagmohan Dalmiya became the president of the International Cricket Council in 1996, had celebrated his 75th birthday on September 13.
"He had celebrated his 75th birthday with his friends. It is very unfortunate. He was like a father to me. I always used to consult him on various issues. He had guided me from the age of 12," former India stumper Nayan Mongia, who was close to him, said.
Lele, who had written an autobiography on his career as a cricket administrator, was not well on his birthday as he was suffering from a viral infection.
"He suffered a massive heart attack when he went to the bathroom before going to sleep. He was escorted to the bed but he passed away," family sources said.
A qualified umpire and a club level cricketer, Lele later graduated to BCCI ranks and then rose to become its secretary during one of the most turbulent period in Indian cricket.
It was during his tenure as the BCCI secretary that the Board first set up the Justice Chandrachud commission to enquire into match-fixing charges and then asked the CBI to probe the charges after former South African captain Hansie Cronje admitted to fixing matches, got banned for life. Cronje had named several cricketers around the world, including Mohammad Azharuddin.
The match-fixing scandal led to the life ban imposed by the Board on Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma and five-year bans on Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar.
Lele often got into trouble for airing his views fearlessly. He had once also spoken out against legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev, when he was the India team coach, for including Ajit Agarkar as an additional camp member in Ahmedabad without the Board's permission.
It was Lele who had predicted that India would suffer a 3-0 whitewash against Australia during their tour Down Under in 1999 with Sachin Tendulkar as captain and Kapil as coach. He, however, denied having predicted any scoreline later.
Lele started his career as an administrator of the Baroda Cricket Association, learnt his ropes under the guidance of former India skipper Vijay Hazare and then former BCCI president Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad before becoming its joint secretary.
The former BCCI secretary had openly criticised chief-in-exile N Srinivasan on quite a few occasions.
"I am absolutely disappointed at what happened today. What's the difference between this and match-fixing? First of all, the whole thing is unconstitutional as the working committee cannot appoint anyone," the outspoken Lele had said after Jagmohan Dalmiya was appointed the interim chief of BCCI in June this year. (Read)
In another interview to NDTV on September 14, Jaywant accused the BCCI of double standards after the life bans were imposed on S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan. Lele questioned the reason behind the board's decision to keep quiet on BCCI chief N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who was arrested by the Mumbai police on charges of betting during IPL 6. (Watch)