Connect with us
[entitysport_widget id=appendHtmlForslider_widgetcricket]

Bishan Bedi dies at the age of 77


Bishan Bedi dies at the age of 77


Former India captain Bishan Bedi has died at the age of 77 in Delhi.

Bedi was ailing for the last two years and had undergone multiple surgeries including one on the knee about a month ago. He is survived by his wife Anju, their daughter Neha and son Angad, and his son Gavasinder and daughter Gillinder from his earlier marriage to Glenith Miles.

One of the game’s greatest left-arm spinners, Bedi represented India in 67 Tests and ten ODIs from 1967 to 1979. He was India’s highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 266 at an average of 28.71, at the time of his retirement. Bedi, the unorthodox legspinner Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, and offspinners Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan made up the celebrated spin quartet that dominated Indian cricket in the 1970s.

Outside his feats in Indian cricket, Bedi also enjoyed a successful career in the County Championship with Northamptonshire, for whom he took 434 first-class wickets at 20.89.

As a bowler, Bedi was a connoisseur’s delight, renowned for the classical beauty of his action and his ability to maintain a perfect length over long spells while subtly varying his pace, trajectory and release.

“Like most great bowlers, his variation was subtle,” the England captain Mike Brearley wrote of him. “Of all the slow bowlers of Bedi’s time, none forced you to commit yourself later than he did. With tiny, last-second adjustments of wrist and hand-angle, he could bowl successive balls that looked identical, perhaps as if each would land on a length just outside off stump.

“But with the first he would cock his wrist more, deliver the ball slightly higher – it would spin sharply, stay wider of off, and be shorter than you anticipated. The next ball, ever so slightly undercut and a little quicker, would pitch further up and come in towards middle and leg stumps. To the first ball you were likely to play inside the line, and away from the body; to the second, outside the line, and round your front leg, so that there was a risk of inside edge on to the pad.

“The error of judgment induced in the batsman could be as much as a yard in length and a foot in width. And he could make these changes according to what he sensed the batsman was trying to do, in the moment of delivery, so firm and balanced were his action and rhythm.”

Bedi’s control reflected in his numbers. Of the 82 bowlers to have taken at least 200 Test wickets, only three – Lance Gibbs, Richie Benaud and Derek Underwood – have better economy rates than his 2.14.

Bedi led India in 22 Tests, winning six, including three overseas. One of these was the historic chase at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1976, when Bedi’s India chased down a target of 403, a record that stood until 2003. Charismatic, gutsy and fluent, Bedi the captain was admired by players from across the board including those from overseas. Bedi mentored a host of international players including Maninder Singh, Murali Kartik and Sunil Joshi.

On the domestic front, Bedi led Delhi in four Ranji Trophy finals, winning two of them, in consecutive seasons: in 1978-79 his team got the better of Gundappa Viswanath’s Karnataka, and in the following year they beat Sunil Gavaskar’s Bombay.

On the field, Bedi was known for a personality as colourful as the patkas he wore, and was reputed for both his generosity – he often applauded batters when they hit him for six – and his outspokenness. This led him into some notable clashes, particularly when he captained India. He declared India’s first innings at 306 for 6 at Sabina Park in 1976 in protest at what he felt was intimidatory bowling from West Indies’ fast bowlers on an uneven surface, and two years later conceded an ODI against Pakistan in Sahiwal, when he felt Sarfraz Nawaz had used the bouncer excessively. In Chennai in 1977, he objected to John Lever’s use of vaseline – applied to his brow as an ostensible means of keeping sweat out of his eyes – alleging that the England fast bowler was using it to alter the condition of the ball.

Bedi continued speaking his mind on cricketing and non-cricketing matters long after he retired. One of his biggest bugbears was chucking. He believed that no fingerspinner could bowl the doosra without straightening the elbow. One of the most controversial statements Bedi made on this topic came in a 2005 interview in which he likened the Sri Lanka legend Muthiah Muralidaran to a “javelin thrower”.

In his later years Bedi was highly critical of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association’s (DDCA) administration, and in 2020 wrote to the body requesting that it cancel his membership and remove his name from the stand named after him at the Feroz Shah Kotla – this after the DDCA had decided to rename the stadium after the politician and cricket administrator Arun Jaitley.

Bedi was always generous with his thoughts, and cricketers on tours of India often approached him for his insights. Once he even instructed Shane Warne on how to counter Sachin Tendulkar. “I was telling Shane Warne, after Sachin destroyed him in India, that a straight six is always hit off a good ball,” Bedi said in an interview with Wisden Asia Cricket. “You can’t set a field for a straight six … but I was always happy when somebody hit me for a six, because I thought I could get him out. But before I could explain the intricacies of outwitting a batsman, Warne said, `No, rubbish, this bloody thing is disappearing too often’.”

Bedi the coach was uncompromising. Even Virat Kohli was not spared, as he was graduating through age-group cricket at Delhi where Bedi was a coach. In 2017, while receiving a DDCA award from Bedi, Kohli recounted how the senior focussed on 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 quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times. “So many people have been able to succeed because of that. Thank you, sir.”


Continue Reading
You may also like...
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Cricket

Most Runs Scored by


To Top