India cricket legend Bishan Singh Bedi dead at 77: Former spin bowler, who was his country’s leading wicket taker before retiring in 1979, passes away after prolonged illness
- The world of cricket is mourning the passing of India great Bishan Singh Bedi
- The bowler will be fondly remembered for his smoothness of run-up and delivery
- Bedi is widely viewed as one of the greatest spin bowlers to ever grace the game
The world of cricket is mourning the great Indian left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi following his death at the age of 77.
The all-time cricket great passed away after a lengthy battle with an age-related illnesses, having undergone multiple surgeries in recent years.
A statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, from the Board of Control for Cricket in India said: ‘The BCCI mourns the sad demise of former India Test captain and legendary spinner, Bishan Singh Bedi.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fans in these tough times. May his soul rest in peace.’
Few slow bowlers have ever approached the crease as gracefully as Bedi, who at the time of his international retirement in 1979 had taken more Test wickets – 266 at an average of 28 – than any other Indian.
Bishan Singh Bedi passed away at the age of 77 on Monday after a prolonged battle with illness
Bedi captained India in 22 Tests and impressed with his graceful and smooth style of bowling
He also played in 10 one-day internationals, returning figures of 12-8-6-1 against East Africa at Headingley in the first men’s World Cup in 1975. His Test economy-rate of 2.14 confirmed his accuracy.
Bedi was part of India’s famed quartet of slow bowlers in the 1970s, along with Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Eralli Prasanna and Srinivasan Venkataraghavan, and also spent six summers at Northamptonshire, taking 434 first-class wickets at just 20 apiece.
But it will be for the smoothness of run-up and delivery that Bedi will be most fondly remembered. He liked to beat batsmen in the air, preferably luring them down the track – though he would occasionally applaud an opponent who managed to hit him for six.
Above all, he brought artistry to the cricket field. As the former England captain Mike Brearley once wrote in Wisden: ‘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.’
Bedi captained India in 22 Tests, and knew his own mind. Against West Indies in Jamaica in April 1976, he declared his team’s first innings on 306 for six because he feared for his players’ safety against hostile fast bowling on an uneven pitch. In their second innings, five Indian batsmen were recorded as ‘absent hurt’, before West Indies won by 10 wickets.
Bedi remained an outspoken critic of the game’s administration in India, asking for his name to be removed from a stand at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium after the ground was renamed in honour of the Indian politician Arun Jaitley.
The Indian cricket legend is pictured in 2016 alongside his son and actor Angad Bedi, right
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes, saying on X: ‘Deeply saddened by the passing of noted cricketer Shri Bishan Singh Bedi Ji.
‘His passion for the sport was unwavering and his exemplary bowling performances led India to numerous memorable victories.
‘He will continue to inspire future generations of cricketers. Condolences to his family and admirers.’
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added: ‘Sad to hear about the demise of the great Bishen Singh Bedi, apart from being a great cricketer, he was an affable person and went the extra mile to help young cricketers.’
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