In Delhi, Bishan Bedi, a former captain of India, passed away at the age of 77.
Bedi had suffered from illness for the previous two years and had had several surgeries, most recently one on his knee approximately a month ago. His wife Anju, their son Angad and daughter Neha, as well as his son Gavasinder and daughter Gillinder from a previous marriage to Glenith Miles, survive him.
From 1967 until 1979, Bedi, one of the best left-arm spinners in history, played for India in 67 Test matches and ten One-Day Internationals. When he retired, he had taken 266 Test wickets for India at an average of 28.71, making him the country’s top wicket taker. During the 1970s, Bedi, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, an unconventional legspinner, and Erapalli Prasanna, an offspinner, along with Srinivas Venkataraghavan, formed the renowned spin quartet that controlled Indian cricket.
In addition to his achievements in Indian cricket, Bedi had a great career with Northamptonshire in the County Championship, where he claimed 434 first-class wickets at a 20.89 average.
Sunil Gavaskar, the former captain of India and Bedi’s teammate in 44 Test matches, tweeted, “Sad news indeed.” “He was the finest left-hand bowler that I saw.”
Bedi was a bowling connoisseur’s dream, known for the classical beauty of his movement and his ability to modify his velocity, trajectory, and release subtly while maintaining a perfect length for extended periods of time.
“His variation was subtle, like most great bowlers,” Mike Brearley, the captain of England, wrote. “Bedi was the only slow bowler of his era who made you commit to something later than he did. He could bowl consecutive balls that appeared to be similar with small, split-second changes to his wrist and hand angle, as if they were going to land on a length slightly outside off stump.
However, he would cock his wrist more and deliver the ball somewhat higher with the first, which caused it to spin violently, stay wider of off, and come in shorter than you had expected. The next ball would pitch higher and come in toward the center and leg stumps, ever so slightly undercut and a tad quicker. You were probably going to play the first ball within the line and away from your body, and the second outside the line and around your front leg, where there was a chance the ball would come into contact with the pad on the inside.
“The batsman may have made a mistake in judgment that was as much as a yard long and a foot wide. And because his motion and rhythm were firm and balanced, he could adjust his delivery to what he felt the batsman was trying to do.”
Bedi’s numbers demonstrated his control. Only three bowlers have greater economy rates than his 2.14 out of the 82 who have taken at least 200 wickets in Test cricket: Lance Gibbs, Richie Benaud, and Derek Underwood.
The captivating Bedi garnered admiration from athletes worldwide throughout his tenure as captain. In 22 Test matches, he guided India to six victories, three of them away from home. One of these was the famous pursuit that took place in 1976 at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where Bedi’s India managed to catch a target of 403, setting a record that lasted until 2003.
Domestically, Bedi guided Delhi to four Ranji Trophy finals, two of which they won in back-to-back seasons: in 1978–79, they defeated Gundappa Viswanath’s Karnataka, and the following year, they triumphed against Sunil Gavaskar’s Bombay.
fearless, frank, and unyielding
Bedi’s character on the field was as vibrant as the patkas he wore. He was well-known for his outspokenness and kindness, frequently applauding batters who hit him for six runs. This brought him into some significant conflicts, especially when he captained India. In protest at what he perceived to be intimidating bowling from West Indies fast bowlers on an uneven field, he declared India’s first innings at 306 for 6 at Sabina Park in 1976. Two years later, he conceded an ODI against Pakistan in Sahiwal, citing excessive usage of the bouncer by Sarfraz Nawaz. He complained about John Lever’s 1977 use of vaseline in Chennai, claiming the England fast bowler was using it to change the ball’s condition. Lever had applied the product to his brow in an apparent attempt to keep perspiration out of his eyes.
Even after he retired, Bedi remained outspoken on both cricket and non-cricketing issues. Laughing was one of his biggest pet peeves. No fingerspinner, in his opinion, could bowl the doosra without extending the elbow. Bedi’s comparison of Sri Lankan icon Muthiah Muralidaran to a “javelin thrower” during a 2005 interview was one of his most contentious remarks on the subject.
Bedi called India captain Anil Kumble in 2008, during the height of the Monkeygate issue, when the BCCI threatened to pull the Indian team out of Australia midway through the Border-Gavaskar series. In The Sardar of Spin: A Celebration of the Life and Art of Bishan Singh Bedi, Kumble recounted Bedi advising him, “Son, take a decision that history will remember you by.” “Don’t reach a hasty decision, don’t be ruled by emotion.”
Effects on a youthful Kohli
In 2020, after the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) decided to rename the stadium after politician and cricket administrator Arun Jaitley, Bedi wrote to the organization demanding that it cancel his membership and remove his name from the stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla. In his later years, Bedi was a harsh critic of the DDCA’s management.
Many international players, such as Maninder Singh, Murali Kartik, and Sunil Joshi, were coached by Bedi. Cricket players visiting India would frequently come to him for advice because he was constantly giving with his opinions. He also gave Shane Warne advice on how to oppose Sachin Tendulkar at one point. “I was telling Shane Warne, after Sachin destroyed him in India, that a straight six is always hit off a good ball,” Bedi stated in a Wisden Asia Cricket interview. “I was always happy when someone hit me for a six because I thought I could get him out, but you can’t set a field for a straight six.” However, Warne remarked, “No, crap, this bloody thing is disappearing too often,” before I could explain the subtleties of outwitting a batsman.”
The coach Bedi was unyielding. Given that Bedi was coaching age-group cricket in Delhi when Virat Kohli was graduating, not even he was spared. When Kohli was accepting a DDCA award from Bedi in 2017, the senior was all about fitness. “From not understanding the importance of fitness and running away from him in Under-15, Under-17, Under-19 cricket only because he made us train too much to becoming [highly fitness-conscious] my life right now is something he has been doing for ages now,” Kohli was reported to have said by the Hindustan Times. That’s why so many individuals have been successful. I’m grateful, sir.”