New Delhi: India’s legendary left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi passed away on Monday, aged 77. Bedi played 67 Tests for India between 1967 and 1979, taking 266 wickets at an average of 28.71, apart from making 656 runs with the bat.
Bedi, considered to be one of the greatest left-arm spinners to have played the game, was part of the famous Indian spin quartet alongside Erapalli Prasanna, B.S. Chandrashekar and S. Venkataraghavan that won India many matches in both home and overseas conditions in the 1970s.
He also took seven wickets in 10 ODI matches, apart from captaining India in 22 Tests – with its most memorable wins coming in Melbourne and Sydney Tests in the 1977-78 tour of Australia.
Born in Amritsar, Punjab, Bedi began his first-class career with Northern Punjab, before moving to Delhi in the 1968-69 season, shortly after making his India Test debut in 1966. His left-arm spin bowling was known for the mastery he had of flight, loop and spin, along with using subtle variations to outwit batters at the crease, with tiny adjustments made in his superior arm speed release points.
Bedi also led Delhi to winning the prestigious Ranji Trophy titles in 1978-79 and 1979-80, apart from two runners-up finishes. He also had a successful stint for Northamptonshire in county cricket in England. In 102 outings for the club between 1972 and 1977, Bedi bagged 434 wickets, the most by an Indian in the English County cricket circuit, while averaging 20.89.
Post his playing career, Bedi turned to coaching young cricketers, with Maninder Singh and Murali Kartik being his students to have played for India. He also coached Punjab, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir teams in domestic cricket, with Punjab winning Ranji Trophy in 1992-93.
He was the manager of the Indian team briefly in 1990. He was also an outspoken, unfazed and fearless voice on all matters related to the sport, calling a spade a spade, during and after his playing days.
At the same time, Bedi was revered for his wisdom, knowledge and infinite love for the sport. He was conferred with Arjuna Award in 1969, the Padma Shri in 1970 and the C. K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
Of late, Bedi had been unwell and had to undergo multiple surgeries, including one on the knee which happened in late September this year. He is survived by his wife Anju, and two children: Neha and Angad, a film actor.