Born on September 25, 1946 in Amritsar, Bishan Singh Bedi is a former Indian cricketer and the skipper of the team. Graceful, artistic and pure, Bedi has a rightful claim to being India’s greatest ever left-arm spinners.
Bedi was a skillful left-arm orthodox spinner, who was part of the famous Indian spin quartet along with BS Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan.
Bedi started playing cricket rather late, at the age of 13, and he made his debut for Northern Punjab two years later. Right from the early days, Bedi based his bowling on flighting the ball and subtle variations in spin.
His relaxed action combined with impeccable control were his biggest allies and this went a long way in him getting selected for the senior team.
Bedi made his Test debut against the then mighty West Indies in 1966 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. He didn’t have an eye-catching entry to the big stage, but was persisted with because of his control and because he brought variety to the Indian spin attack.
Rise to Glory
The outspoken cricketer came into his own during Australia Test series in 1969-70 where he picked up 21 wickets including his best test figures of 7/98 at Kolkata.
In 1972-73 against England, Bedi bought his variations to the fore picking up 25 wickets in five Tests at an average of 25.28. This was the time where India reigned supreme at home conditions thanks to the spin quartet which bamboozled visiting batsmen no end.
Bedi was appointed Indian Captain in 1976 succeeding Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. Under his leadership, the team achieved a heroic victory against the mighty West Indies at Port of Spain by chasing a then-record 406 runs in fourth innings.
This was followed by the home series win against New Zealand. However, after successive defeats against the likes of England, Australia and Pakistan, he was replaced as the skipper by Sunil Gavaskar.
Always outspoken and forthright in his views, Bedi courted controversies and this continued even after his retirement. He once objected to the use of Vaseline by England bowler John Laver in 1976-77, which as was proved later, seemed perfectly within the rules.
During his tenure as captain, he declared the Indian innings at Kingston in response to the aggressive bowling by Windies fast bowlers. Later during his coaching stint, he had famously threatened to dump the Indian team at sea in response to their poor performances.
In 67 test matches, the left-arm spinner picked up 266 wickets at a healthy average of 28.71. Post his retirement in 1979, he also took up the role of coach of the Indian team.
Bedi, who is known to speak his mind had always been critical of so-called T20 revolution. His open criticism about Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling action had also raised a few eyebrows on multiple occasions.