NEW DELHI, Oct. 23, 2023
From our Sports Correspondent
The “Sardar of Spin” – as he was popularly called in India – had an infectious sense of humour. Yes, The Bharat India is talking about legendary Indian Cricketer and Spinner Bishen Singh Bedi. But, now he is no more!
Bishen Singh Bedi was battling age-related illnesses and had undergone a few surgeries in recent years. Bishen Singh Bedi, regarded as one of the world’s finest ever spin bowlers, captained India in 22 of his 67 Tests and took 266 wickets. He made his debut against West Indies in 1966 and played his last Test against England at The Oval in 1979.
Bishen Singh Bedi also played English County Cricket for Northamptonshire and finished his career with 1,560 first-class wickets, the highest by any Indian bowler.
Legendary Indian Spinner was an integral part of a famed quartet of India’s world-beating spin bowlers in the 1960s and 70s, which included Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. Notably, in 2021, Bedi was picked by readers for a place in British Broadcasting Corporation Sport’s all-time India Test XI.
Bishen Singh Bedi took birth in Amritsar, Punjab and began playing Cricket at school. When he turned 20, he became the 113th cricketer to represent India in Tests.
Over a 12-year career, his best bowling performance came in 1969 when he picked up seven wickets for 98 runs against Australia in Kolkata, a Test match that India lost.
In his trademark Pink or bright Blue turban, Bishen Singh Bedi was a spin bowling purist’s dream. With a languid run-up and a fluid action, bowling came naturally to him. A cricket writer described the left arm spinner as stealthy, silent and deadly, a master of deception who conjured variations in flight, loop, spin and pace without any perceptible change in action.
Bishen Singh Bedi flighted the ball higher than any bowler in International Cricket; if he could challenge quick-footed batsmen thus, it was only because his command was so complete that he would make the ball descend far quicker than it went up, wrote Ramachandra Guha, a historian and author of A Corner of a Foreign Field, a book on Indian cricket.
Once in England, Bishen Singh Bedi picked up two dogs from a kennel, named them Charles and Diana and took them to India. At the London airport, an official asked him, “Are you taking the mickey out of our royalty?”. A deadpan Bedi replied: “No! I am taking the royalty with me.”
Thus, Bishen Singh Bedi, in many ways, happened to be irreverent personality and a rebel of sorts. Not to forget, of course, one of the greatest cricketers of all time.