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Bishen Singh Bedi

by Saurabh Sharma Jul 03, 2018 • 05:33 AM

Bishen Singh Bedi is a former Indian cricketer and was a graceful slow left-arm orthodox bowler. He was stealthy, silent and deadly, a master of deception who conjured variations in flight, loop, spin and pace without any perceptible change in action. He bowled with a big heart too, challenging the batsman to hit over the top by giving the ball plenty of air, and was a consistent wicket-taker for most of his career forming one of the 4 members of the well-known Indian spin quartet along with B.S. Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan. Bedi is also famous for always wearing a colourful patka and his outspoken and forthright views on cricketing matters.

Bedi was born on 24th September 1946 in Amritsar, Punjab. From his childhood Bedi wanted to bowl fast, but was persuaded in another direction by Gurpal Singh, his captain at Khalsa College due to his thin and weak body structure. In Indian domestic cricket, Bedi first played for Northern Punjab when only fifteen, having taken up cricket only at an age of 13. He moved to Delhi in 1968–69 and in the 1974–75 season of the Ranji Trophy, he took a record 64 wickets. Bedi also represented Northamptonshire in English county cricket for many years. He finished his career with 1560 wickets in first-class cricket—more than any other Indian.

Bedi made the debut of his Test Cricket career with a match against West Indies on 31st of December 1966, while he played his first One Day International (ODI) Cricket Match against England on 13th of July 1974.

Bedi tasted first success during the 1969-70 season against Australia. His best Test bowling 7/98 came against them at Calcutta and his best match figures of 10/194 came at Perth in 1978–79, also against Australia. He continued his good form throughout 1972-74 seasons scalping 25 wickets (at 25.28) against England and also taking 18 wickets at 25.33 in the West Indies.

Bedi was appointed captain of India in 1976, succeeding Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. His first Test victory as captain was against the West Indies at Port-of-Spain in the 3rd Test of the 1976 series in which India scored a then-record 406 in the fourth innings. This was followed up by a 2–0 series victory over New Zealand at home. However, after successive Test series losses to England (3–1 at home), Australia (3–2 away) and Pakistan (2–0 away), he was replaced as captain by Sunil Gavaskar.

Considered to be one of the most outspoken and explicitly expressing cricket players India has ever seen, Bedi’s bold statements and decisions often created so many controversies throughout his cricket career. In one of these instances, he declared the Indian innings prematurely at a Test Match against West Indies in the year 1976 as 2 players had been forced to retire hurt owing to the intimidating bowling by the West Indian fast bowlers.

In England's tour of India in 1976–77 he accused John Lever of using Vaseline to illegally polish the ball in the Third Test at Madras. Lever wore Vaseline strips on his forehead to keep the sweat out of his eyes; he was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

Similarly, during a One Day International (ODI) Cricket Match against Pakistan in November 1978, he created history by conceding the match while India still had 8 wickets in hand. The reason behind this was that Sarfaraz Nawaz from Pakistan consecutively bowled 4 bouncers, and none of them was declared a Wide Ball by the umpires.

During the years that Bedi spent as part of a trio or quartet, the individual was often secondary to the collective. Between them, they took 853 wickets, 18 more than Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft managed for West Indies during their years of terrorising the world's batsmen.

Bedi's on-field story ended at the age of 33, with 266 wickets from 67 Tests, and his stint as an administrator with Delhi produced no lasting impact. Few remember that he was one of the selectors who picked the World Cup-winning squad of 1983.

Bedi holds the world record for the most economical bowling figures in a 60-over ODI match amongst the bowlers who had completed their quota of overs (12 overs). In the 1975 World Cup, when the bowlers were allowed to deliver 12 overs, Bedi finished with 12-8-6-1(overs-maidens-Runs-Wickets) against East Africa at Headingly.

Bishen Singh Bedi had been appointed as the coach of the Indian Cricket team in the year 1990. He is famous for threatening to throw the Indian Cricket team into the Pacific Ocean when the team played very badly upon a foreign tour, and was returning back home from there.

His son Angad Bedi played cricket up to Under-19 level for Delhi before taking up a career in modelling and acting.

Although Bedi is not an active part of the Indian Cricket anymore, still his hot comments upon different cricket personalities have still continued creating stirs and controversies. Specially, his harsh criticism of the bowling action of Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan accusing him to be a chucker has even gone to the extent of Muralitharan having threatened to sue him.


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