Bishan Singh Bedi

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A brief profile

Partha Bhaduri, Oct 24, 2023: The Times of India

Bishan Singh Bedi, in figures
From: Gaurav Gupta, Oct 24, 2023: The Times of India
Bishan Singh Bedi- statistics
From: Partha Bhaduri, Oct 24, 2023: The Times of India

Bishan Singh Bedi was so many things to so many people, a leader of leaders. I can only attempt to tell you about the Bedi ‘sir’ I know. It feels wrong to use the past tense here.

My generation never saw Bedi lead an Indian team out onto the field, or watched him bowl live, or saw him become captain, or lose the captaincy, or sensed the guile and deception in his deliveries as they happened.

We came to know later, much later when we were growing up and obsessing over the game, that when he retired with 266 Test wickets it was the highest ever by an Indian bowler till that point. Or that his 1560 first-class wickets are the most by an Indian cricketer. Or that he had such reverence for Tiger Pataudi.

For us, as pre-teens in the 1980s, Bedi was part of the famed spin quartet. He was sepia. Until he became India coach, threatened to dump the team in the sea, and became the Bedi in vivid colour.

I first met him more than two decades ago, at one of his many cricket camps. My editor at that time sent me there, too early in the morning for my convenience, and I found Bedi ‘sir’ vehemently arguing with what seemed like a parent of a wannabe cricketer. I had to wait for things to calm down, then gently ventured, “Is that good for business?” He broke into a laugh and asked, “Do you know what the greatest problem is in running a camp like this?” With what I thought was complete confidence, I answered, “The lack of talent.” He immediately blew his top. “What? Lack of talent? Never.

Never in a country like this. That isn’t the problem. The biggest problem is that every parent who comes here wants his kid to become Sachin (expletive) Tendulkar. Never Bishan (expletive) Bedi. Tell me, what am I to do?” I honestly still don’t have an answer to that.
 This was the no-holds-barred Bedi we all knew. The one who was unsparing on his wards when it came to hard work and maintaining fitness standards, as a certain Virat Kohli knows.

The one who famously termed Muttiah Muralitharan a “javelin thrower” and said his 800 Test wickets should be changed to “run outs” in the history books. The one who steadfastly opposed the ICC’s 15-degree elbow extension rule. The one who broke ‘Vaselinegate’. The one who stood up for players’ rights. The one who asked for his stand to be removed from the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi after the stadium was renamed after a politician. The one who called up Anil Kumble during the ‘Monkey gate’ saga and told him, “Take a decision that history will remember you by.” The list can go on and on, and probably a few important ones are missing here.

Bedi also instilled in those he met the need to read and learn constantly about the game, though he often couldn’t fathom how younger minds wouldn’t absorb knowledge at his pace.
During the Covid years and immediately before he had a stroke which limited his social interactions and closed him off to the world at large, he became an even more voracious reader.

Bedi knew he was an anachronism in modern cricket’s business structure and preferred it that way. He was, first and foremost, a man of principle. One of my last conversations with him was a long one about cricket’s altered ecosystem. He listened to me patiently and reminded me, “Your point? Ecosystems change. Excellence remains.”

In every way, Bedi was classic. Rest in peace, sir. You remain not only one of India’s most celebrated, but also one of its most treasured cricketing icons.

‘Bedi was the one who brought team together’

Manuja Veerappa, Oct 24, 2023: The Times of India

Bengaluru : Bishan Singh Bedi, cricketer par excellence, a fearless leader on and off the field. He was a man who brought the team together, in victory and defeat.

In an interview with TOI a few years ago, batting stalwart GR Viswanath had said on team bonding, “In Test cricket, we used to meet in the bar (after the day’s play). Bishan (Singh Bedi) was the person who brought us together. We would meet at 7pm and discuss what happened that day, we wouldn’t go deep into what might happen the next day. Tomorrow happens, but you don’t sit on it. Everyone, irrespective of whether they drank or not, came. Nobody questioned.”

The late sixties was the golden period in Indian cricket with the emergence of the spin quartet of EAS Prasanna, BS Chan drasekhar, S Venkataraghavan and Bedi. In fact the last three made their India debut in the span of two years — 1964 to 66. Bedi was the last among the four to make his debut. For a decade and a half, the quartet un leashed terror with craft and skill, even as they jostled for a place in the team.

Among the many close bonds that Bedi developed was with his senior Prasanna.

Overcome by emotions, Prasanna said, “I don’t know how to react. I’m lost for words. The passing of Bishan is a great loss for Indian cricket. For over five decades we shared more than friendship.”

“He was a wonderful human being, who despite his tremendous achievements remained humble and grounded,” the 83-yearold said, “He was always there when someone reached out to him. His contribution to Indian cricket is unparalleled. He’s worn many hats with distinction — champion player, captain, manager and selector among others. The roles have been plenty but the goal was always betterment of Indian cricket.”

“I’m deeply shocked by the demise of Bedi,” legendary leg spinner Chandrasekhar said. Recalling his association with Bedi, the 78-year-old said, “Every tour with him was enjoyable. He was so full of life and such great company. He was a very good-hearted person, on and off the field.”
Chandra added, “There was no rivalry between us. We celebrated with each other.”

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