Bishan: Portrait of a Cricketer October 16, 2011

The many facets of Bedi

Suresh Menon's biography does justice to most aspects of one of cricket's more legendary larger-than-life characters
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With public personalities, you seldom know where the truth ends and myth begins. That is especially so in the case of larger-than-life figures like Bishan Singh Bedi. Many people's idea of the role model for a classical spinner, Bedi in his playing days was something of a rebel - a staunch traditionalist who could also be an iconoclast.

It takes both wisdom and wit to make sense of such a man, and Suresh Menon addresses the challenge in front of him in the preface to this engaging biography. "It is rather like the blind men of Hindustan describing an elephant: everything depends on where you are standing and which of the personalities is turned towards you," he says. "The personas overlap occasionally, but often remain so out of touch with one another that a group of people could spend an evening talking without realising that they are referring to the same person."

This is Bedi's story, but in many ways it's also a chronicle of the coming of age of Indian cricket. Before the spin quartet, of which he was such an integral part, came along, even home victories were a rare commodity. But over the two decades that the two offspinners (Prasanna and Venkatraghavan), one left-armer (Bedi) and the unorthodox leggie (Chandrasekhar) played, India became a side to be reckoned with, enjoying a particularly vivid purple patch between 1971 and 1973, when they beat West Indies away and England (twice).

Bedi was the only man to play in Dunedin (1967-68), Trinidad (1970-71), The Oval (1971) and Melbourne (1977-78), as India won their first Test matches in those countries. The book goes into a fair bit of detail about those epochal tours, without getting bogged down in the minutiae.

As with any good biography, its strength lies in its ability to make sense of the man behind the numbers and the quotable quotes. There is enough personal detail - his son, Angad, turned to acting partly because the father was such a hard taskmaster - without the book becoming a page-3 exercise in voyeurism. Best of all, any admiration of the subject is counterbalanced by a clear-eyed view of his shortcomings.

"Like most men with a strong mind, he can be a staunch friend or a bitter enemy," writes Menon. "It is part of his black-or-white philosophy. Long before George W Bush made it an anthem, Bedi was telling those around him, 'You are either with me or against me.'"

He was also a man who might have been better suited to playing in Victor Trumper's day, when professionalism hadn't become sport's leitmotif. In Menon's words: "Bedi ignored context, sometimes put beauty before mere efficiency, and retained his amateur spirit in a game that had no time for amateurs - this despite his stints as a county professional in Northamptonshire and a grade cricket pro in Australia."

The story starts back in Amritsar, in the decade after independence, with a young boy who wanted to bowl fast. Gurpal Singh, Bedi's captain at Khalsa College, dissuaded him. "The first ball Bedi the spinner bowled to me was a full toss," he recalls. Though he reckons he was "nature's own child", Bedi practised seven or eight hours a day, inspired by both Sir Garfield Sobers and Tony Lock.

"Few understood better than Bedi the separate roles played by the fingers, the palm, the arm, the shoulder, the hip, the legs and the toes," writes Menon. "He could alter the position of one of them at the top of the bowling mark and change the delivery." In Sobers' pithy words, "he took the weight off the ball nicely".

One of the strong suits of this book is the fact that the biographer knows his cricket. Apart from the facts and anecdotes that pepper the narrative, there's informed description and analysis of Bedi's strengths as a bowler, from friends and opponents alike.

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.

This is Bedi's story, but in many ways it's also a chronicle of the coming of age of Indian cricket

Bedi was also generous with his advice, both during and after his playing days. In 1972-73, when Dennis Amiss struggled in India, Bedi bowled to him in the nets to help him sort out technical shortcomings. Nearly a decade after his retirement, he told Iqbal Qasim in Bangalore: "On a turner, the most dangerous ball is the one that goes through straight." Pakistan won the decisive Test by 16 runs.

In the two years of glory under Ajit Wadekar - far less popular as a captain with the spinners than his predecessor, the Nawab of Pataudi, was - Bedi took 51 wickets in 13 Tests. But by the time the team went to England in 1974, the relationship had deteriorated. After what became known as the Summer of 42 (India were skittled for that total at Lord's), Wadekar remarked: "Bedi doesn't always bowl to instructions."

By then he had also, unfairly, been marked out as something of a troublemaker. In an era when players were treated like indentured labour, Bedi asked uncomfortable questions. One of them concerned the fees for that tour of England. "The increased allowance would have given the players, who received £2 per day, an additional 50p," writes Menon of a situation that's scarcely imaginable in the gilded world that is modern-day Indian cricket.

Bedi captained India to victory in six Tests, though his reign is perhaps best remembered for declaring the innings closed at Sabina Park in 1976, after a bouncer barrage sent several of his side to hospital. He also took 434 wickets for Northamptonshire, though his six-year stint ended with the recriminations that followed the John Lever-Vaseline affair. As Menon chronicles the pettiness and vindictiveness of those times, you realise that the BCCI's bullying tactics are merely an imitation of MCC behaviour back in the day.

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.

The post-retirement years were dominated by trenchant remarks on various subjects. "With an open-chested action like that, you can't possibly be round-arm," he said of Muttiah Muralitharan. "He is a fine athlete; perhaps he would have made a good javelin thrower at the Asian Games."

This is an erudite yet easy-to-read portrait, one that manages to focus on the many intriguing facets of an individual who was far more than just a skilful bowler. Bedi's passion for the game - as player and coach - shines through, as does his commitment to its traditions. "He might have taken more wickets if he had come off his lofty perch and begun believing that wicket-taking alone meant success," says Menon. But had he done so, there would have been no story to tell, just the mundane instead of the magical.

Bishan: Portrait of a Cricketer
Suresh Menon
Penguin, 2011
Rs 299, 236pp

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2011, 11:16 GMT

    One of the most beloved Indian cricketers in Australia...perhaps only behind Sachin Tendullkar. Bedi was a brilliant bowler. Deceptive flight, surprising bounce off the pitch for one so slow and a vault full of variations. Bedi had it all. For those that believe for one second that Baji is even in the same frame let alone better than Bedi, obviously never saw Bedi bowl. Bishen Bedi was a brilliant bowler and is forthright, honest human being.

  • POSTED BY on | October 17, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    I know Bedi speaks his mind in an era of political correctness. The fact of the matter is until the rule book was changed Murli would not have been a bowler...whatever be the logic of letting him. IN my books Shane warne always will be a better bowler for he bowled as it should be and no angle business...

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 17, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    As I suspected, most of those here who commented adversely on Bedi never actually saw him bowl. To suggest that he was just a containing bowler is rubbish, he was constantly striving for wickets. Compare his test average with India's other spin greats- Bedi 28, Chandra 29, Prasanna 30, Venkat 36. Kumble and Bhaji are another generation, but they have higher averages: Kumble 29, Bhaji 32. All these are great test bowlers, not average trundlers. @Biggus: you're right about his batting and he was a terrible fielder as well, one of the slowest runners I've ever seen! To the Murali lovers; get over it. I'm not going to comment on the legality of Murali's action, he was ruled legal and that's that. The fact is his arm was in a different position during his delivery than anyone's else's I've ever seen. The result was he was able to do things with the ball that no-one else could. Bedi had his own opinion on that, but that has no bearing on Bedi's own bowling.

  • POSTED BY on | October 17, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Bishan Singh Bedi,no doubt,was a superlative bowler but he can be severely faulted for taking out his animosity against Ajit Wadekar by very poor,sloppy bowling during India's 1974 tour of England.On top of that ,just to spite Wadekar,he 'helped' Denis Amiss by bowling to him in the nets-that was downright treachery not sportsmanship. It's a mystery that this dark episode in Indian cricket has been swpt under the carpet and not been investigated further. Poor Ajit Wadekar paid the price for the disastrous 1974 tour by losing captaincy and Bedi achieved his ambition of captaincy soon thereafter . He was a lousy captain and prone to overbowling himself.He also was responsible partly in Pakistan achieving an unlikely victory in the 1978 test in Karachi by stubbornly bowling juicy lollypops to Imran Khan and getting slaughtered for three 6s in one over-Javed and Imran were racing against the clock. Bedi was also lucky that the unfortunate Rajinder Goel of Haryana never played a Test.

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | October 17, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Its an insult to the game of cricket to compare Murali and Bedi. Even Harbhajan is a better bowler than Bedi. The one thing I will admit, though, is that Bedi had style. Very very orthodox and very text book like. No wonder he was so upset with Murali's unorthodox action. In 50 years from now, Murali will be remembered, but nobody will remember Bedi's name. End of story

  • POSTED BY Cool_Jeeves on | October 17, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    Bedi flighted the ball up to Imran Khan and we lost the Karachi test in those 5 minutes, after fighting so hard for a draw. India was not a bad team in the 70s, largely because 4 high quality spinners in a team is as rare as 4 fast men. Bedi led the pack. However, did he bowl and show extreme fighting qualities like Warne in the cape town test (7/161 in 70 overs of non-stop bowling in a full day)? I dont remember. Nevertheless one of the great bowlers.

    But my favourite memory is Tony Greig, spreading the field, when Bedi came in to bat, and Bedi obliging by lofting the ball accurately and getting caught.

  • POSTED BY CricketChat on | October 17, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    From what I remember in my childhood, Bedi was at best a containing bowler who sometimes also attacked when wkt suited him. I would rate Chandra and Prasanna ahead of him to have won matches for India. I liked him most for calling a spade a spade both in BCCI and fellow players.

  • POSTED BY toucheandsuch on | October 17, 2011, 0:58 GMT

    Bedi was a fabulous bowler. I did not know that the spin quartet got more wickets than the great Windies quartet. I first saw him in the Eden Garden test vs England in 72/73 but only remember the fabulous ambience. I had the fortune of meeting him along with Messrs Borde, Pankay Roy and Sarwate in 1982. They were all selectors and happened to be in Bombay just before the team to England was announced. Bedi was the youngest of the group but it did not seem to matter. Greatness is best personified by how your peers treat you and he was more than their equal!! A bit later, I recall watching a festival game in Delhi with Maninder bowling from one end and Bedi from the other. Bedi had retired long before but you had to see the zip he got off the pitch to imagine how he must have been at this best. And he still had a wicked arm ball. In his era, he was clearly the best left arm spinner. Who else can you think of?

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    Stats don't lie. Bedi is the most boring bowler that ever played for India and I was quite disappointed the way the England batsmen took to his bowng in the 1974 Englad tour, the first time I saw him bowl in tests. In fact I can remember him for his batting cameo's a tail-ender. Maybe in theory he was a good bowler but he needed to put it into practice ! Baji is at least 100x better bowler than Bedi.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | October 16, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    Bedi had a rythmical and languid 5 step bowling action.My abiding memory was of him clapping a young Kim Hughes after he had stepped out and smacked him over deep mid-wicket at SCG. Very soon came a faster delivery which had the middle stump out of the ground and in wicket-keepers hand and a visibly chastened Kim hurriedly walking back. Sardar was never a person to let his thoughts to himself and he got many times singed for it. Truly a character of the game.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2011, 11:16 GMT

    One of the most beloved Indian cricketers in Australia...perhaps only behind Sachin Tendullkar. Bedi was a brilliant bowler. Deceptive flight, surprising bounce off the pitch for one so slow and a vault full of variations. Bedi had it all. For those that believe for one second that Baji is even in the same frame let alone better than Bedi, obviously never saw Bedi bowl. Bishen Bedi was a brilliant bowler and is forthright, honest human being.

  • POSTED BY on | October 17, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    I know Bedi speaks his mind in an era of political correctness. The fact of the matter is until the rule book was changed Murli would not have been a bowler...whatever be the logic of letting him. IN my books Shane warne always will be a better bowler for he bowled as it should be and no angle business...

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 17, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    As I suspected, most of those here who commented adversely on Bedi never actually saw him bowl. To suggest that he was just a containing bowler is rubbish, he was constantly striving for wickets. Compare his test average with India's other spin greats- Bedi 28, Chandra 29, Prasanna 30, Venkat 36. Kumble and Bhaji are another generation, but they have higher averages: Kumble 29, Bhaji 32. All these are great test bowlers, not average trundlers. @Biggus: you're right about his batting and he was a terrible fielder as well, one of the slowest runners I've ever seen! To the Murali lovers; get over it. I'm not going to comment on the legality of Murali's action, he was ruled legal and that's that. The fact is his arm was in a different position during his delivery than anyone's else's I've ever seen. The result was he was able to do things with the ball that no-one else could. Bedi had his own opinion on that, but that has no bearing on Bedi's own bowling.

  • POSTED BY on | October 17, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Bishan Singh Bedi,no doubt,was a superlative bowler but he can be severely faulted for taking out his animosity against Ajit Wadekar by very poor,sloppy bowling during India's 1974 tour of England.On top of that ,just to spite Wadekar,he 'helped' Denis Amiss by bowling to him in the nets-that was downright treachery not sportsmanship. It's a mystery that this dark episode in Indian cricket has been swpt under the carpet and not been investigated further. Poor Ajit Wadekar paid the price for the disastrous 1974 tour by losing captaincy and Bedi achieved his ambition of captaincy soon thereafter . He was a lousy captain and prone to overbowling himself.He also was responsible partly in Pakistan achieving an unlikely victory in the 1978 test in Karachi by stubbornly bowling juicy lollypops to Imran Khan and getting slaughtered for three 6s in one over-Javed and Imran were racing against the clock. Bedi was also lucky that the unfortunate Rajinder Goel of Haryana never played a Test.

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | October 17, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    Its an insult to the game of cricket to compare Murali and Bedi. Even Harbhajan is a better bowler than Bedi. The one thing I will admit, though, is that Bedi had style. Very very orthodox and very text book like. No wonder he was so upset with Murali's unorthodox action. In 50 years from now, Murali will be remembered, but nobody will remember Bedi's name. End of story

  • POSTED BY Cool_Jeeves on | October 17, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    Bedi flighted the ball up to Imran Khan and we lost the Karachi test in those 5 minutes, after fighting so hard for a draw. India was not a bad team in the 70s, largely because 4 high quality spinners in a team is as rare as 4 fast men. Bedi led the pack. However, did he bowl and show extreme fighting qualities like Warne in the cape town test (7/161 in 70 overs of non-stop bowling in a full day)? I dont remember. Nevertheless one of the great bowlers.

    But my favourite memory is Tony Greig, spreading the field, when Bedi came in to bat, and Bedi obliging by lofting the ball accurately and getting caught.

  • POSTED BY CricketChat on | October 17, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    From what I remember in my childhood, Bedi was at best a containing bowler who sometimes also attacked when wkt suited him. I would rate Chandra and Prasanna ahead of him to have won matches for India. I liked him most for calling a spade a spade both in BCCI and fellow players.

  • POSTED BY toucheandsuch on | October 17, 2011, 0:58 GMT

    Bedi was a fabulous bowler. I did not know that the spin quartet got more wickets than the great Windies quartet. I first saw him in the Eden Garden test vs England in 72/73 but only remember the fabulous ambience. I had the fortune of meeting him along with Messrs Borde, Pankay Roy and Sarwate in 1982. They were all selectors and happened to be in Bombay just before the team to England was announced. Bedi was the youngest of the group but it did not seem to matter. Greatness is best personified by how your peers treat you and he was more than their equal!! A bit later, I recall watching a festival game in Delhi with Maninder bowling from one end and Bedi from the other. Bedi had retired long before but you had to see the zip he got off the pitch to imagine how he must have been at this best. And he still had a wicked arm ball. In his era, he was clearly the best left arm spinner. Who else can you think of?

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    Stats don't lie. Bedi is the most boring bowler that ever played for India and I was quite disappointed the way the England batsmen took to his bowng in the 1974 Englad tour, the first time I saw him bowl in tests. In fact I can remember him for his batting cameo's a tail-ender. Maybe in theory he was a good bowler but he needed to put it into practice ! Baji is at least 100x better bowler than Bedi.

  • POSTED BY insightfulcricketer on | October 16, 2011, 22:12 GMT

    Bedi had a rythmical and languid 5 step bowling action.My abiding memory was of him clapping a young Kim Hughes after he had stepped out and smacked him over deep mid-wicket at SCG. Very soon came a faster delivery which had the middle stump out of the ground and in wicket-keepers hand and a visibly chastened Kim hurriedly walking back. Sardar was never a person to let his thoughts to himself and he got many times singed for it. Truly a character of the game.

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | October 16, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    @landl47-Agreed. Bedi was an aesthetic pleasure to watch in action, and one of my favourite ever players in many ways. Awful bat ,though not as bad a Chandrasekhar.

  • POSTED BY BnH1985Fan on | October 16, 2011, 17:43 GMT

    I wonder if Bedi will send a complementary copy to Murali? Better yet, has Murali bought his copy yet??

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 17:19 GMT

    If Bedi played today, Bhajji would have never played for India.

  • POSTED BY serious-am-i on | October 16, 2011, 16:55 GMT

    @abu: Take the pitches into consideration where u r looking at stats, most of the Indian bowlers are bowling at batting friendly wickets, which would turn only after 3rd day, so the avg. which they have now is because of their 2nd innings performance in general.

  • POSTED BY Rakim on | October 16, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    There's no doubt, his stats aren't of greats. But this guy had guts and he loved game above anything. And for me that matters the most. And thus he's a great (at least for me). Peace

    PS:I am a Pak fan

  • POSTED BY chapathishot on | October 16, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    @Charindra:Seeing footage of a bowler will not tell how good he is ,If people like Gary sobers and Ian chappel rate a bowler he should be good .Bedi has every right to say his view on Murali like you express your view on Bedi .Only because he had expressed such a view on Murali he cannot be good or bad in his cricket.And also your comment is not original but taken from Murali himself when he retaliated after bedis comment on him after his 800 wickets.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | October 16, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    From an Aussie pov, he is regarded as one of the best. Referring to stats doesn't paint the real picture. For a start, he never got to bowl to weak countries, he bowled in an era where the old LBW law meant almost zero were given in any country, and he bowled in an era of extraordnary strong batting on pitches that didn't do him any service. Hence, his flight, change of pace, the subtle changes aligned with his left arm orthodox made batsmen very wary and rarely took chances against him. I saw him as a youngster, and he was a class act. Someone who India should look back on with pride.

  • POSTED BY sukuviju on | October 16, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    In cricket the best players are always the opening batsmen and opening bowlers. If the opening bowlers take 2-3 quick wickets, then the spinners will have the luxury of bowling at nervous middle order batsmen with 3-4 close-in fielders. The same applies to batsmen, if the openers can stay at the crease for the first 2 hrs of the innings, they would have taken the shine off the ball and also put up at least 70 runs on the score board. After that the middle order will make merry and the spinners from the fielding side will also be ineffective. This simple logic explains the effectiveness of the old West Indian Team ( Greenidge/Hynes and Roberts/Holding) or the Australian Team (Langer/ Hayden and McGrath/Gilespie). This also explains the effectiveness of the Indian Middle Order because of the presence of Sewagh/ Gambhir at the top. Also explains why India never dominated over other teams as we never had effective opening bowlers.Without good openers no team can be effective.

  • POSTED BY Charindra on | October 16, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    I have seen footage of Bedi's bowling, and to me he looks like style over substance. Artistry over results. Ego over the greater good. He kept flighting balls and throwing them up in the air. I can't imagine him playing for long in the modern day, even in test matches. Might have ended up like Ramesh Powar. I don't mind him having an opinion on Murali, as long as he could back it up with facts. His arguments were uneducated when modern science had vindicated Murali. That's why Muralitharan will be remembered as the greatest spinner to have played the game, and Bedi will be remembered as a supporting character in the history of spin.

  • POSTED BY shrikanthk on | October 16, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    cricketSB: Gupte is not a contemporary of Bedi at all! The question of Bedi keeping Gupte out of the team simply does not arise. Gupte had long faded from the scene before Bedi made his Test debut.

    The bowlers who Bedi kept out are Padmakar Shivalkar and Rajinder Goel - two giants of the first class scene. There's nothing to suggest that those two are better bowlers than Bedi.

  • POSTED BY Mad_Mahi on | October 16, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Its not good to compare bedi with warne or murali, when bedi is playing for india there where 4 spinners in the lineup that makes hell of a competition to pick wickets.

  • POSTED BY dryinwicket on | October 16, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    Watching Bedi bowl was like dreaming on a summer´s afternoon, a joy to behold.

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    Even Heath Streak from Zimbabwe got the better bowling average (28.14) from all the Indian "Great" bowlers. :)

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    If you click the link below you can find that not a single Indian bowler got the average less then 28.71 and that (28.71) average is of Badi, I feel pity for the Indian bowlers: http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/bowling/most_wickets_career.html?class=1;id=6;type=team

  • POSTED BY shrikanthk on | October 16, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Some pretty harsh comments on Bedi here, by people who've never seen him bowl.

    266 wickets at 28 is an outstanding return for an Indian bowler back in the 70s when we had no pace attack to make early inroads for the spinners. Bedi seldom had the luxury of bowling with 400-500 runs to defend, unlike Kumble and Harbhajan who have often had that luxury.

    For the Warne-Murali generation accustomed to spinners averaging in the low-mid twenties, please study your history a little bit. Until Shane Warne came along, 28 used to be regarded as an outstanding average for a spin bowler. Few slow bowlers in history have done better than that. One has to go all the way back to the days of Grimmett and O'Reilly to find spinners averaging under 25.

    I don't see how one can judge players based on SRs. It's the bowling average that one must look at, for the simple reason that averages have remained more stable over the years unlike SRs which vary significantly across eras.

  • POSTED BY KarmatBaig on | October 16, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    The best left arm spinner that I have seen bowling with the flight and loop in the air. Deceiving the batsman in flight and never afriad to give the ball a loop even when being hit for runs. Really unfortunate that non of the youngsters after him tried to learn from him the craft of bowling real left arm spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | October 16, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Bedi is 29th on the list of most Test wickets with 266. Kallis is 28th with 270 and Zaheer 27th with 273. In terms of both raw numbers (number of balls bowled, strike rate, economy rate) and context (era, opposition, conditions) there is very little to choose between these three above average bowlers.

  • POSTED BY cricketSB on | October 16, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Hello fellow comment'ors ... Please be aware that Bedi took a wicket every 80 balls. That's a lot higher than Harbhajan's 68. Warne is at 57 while Murali is at 55. Admittedly batsmen were more defensive in the old days, yet these figures do tell a story about who was more threatening, as opposed to who could bore the batsmen out. For the record: Chandra = 66, Prasanna = 76, Venkat = 95. Subhas Gupte, who didn't get to play much because of the quartet had an SR of 76. So, based on performance alone, Gupte should have kept Bedi-Prasanna-Venkat out of the team.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 16, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    I can't imagine anyone who ever saw him play not rating Bedi highly. Whether you agree with his views or not, he was a beautiful bowler to watch, light and graceful on his feet, and he floated the ball in with swerve and dip before breaking it sharply away from right-handers. He had control and variety and, in an era which wasn't very friendly to spin bowlers, he had excellent figures- 266 test wickets @28, with an economy rate of 2.14. In first-class cricket he had over 1500 wickets @21. He was one of a handful of cricketers who made it worth going to a game just to see them perform.

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    I don't want to pass value judgements on either Murali or Bedi. Both have been champion cricketers. However, Murali has had his doubters - some of them very illustrious people with no axe to grind. Bedi's genius on the other hand has been undisputed. Even his worst enemies (Murali excluded) have bowed to his magical skills with the ball.

  • POSTED BY dilanz51 on | October 16, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    this guy has an ordinary record. i dont really care about him.

  • POSTED BY SRAM20 on | October 16, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    Muralitharan was a joke that become very popular! Comparing him with Bedi is gross insult to the very art of spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY MVRMurty on | October 16, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Murali is a legend and so is Shane Warne, and someday Bhajji would join them soon(who knows). As of today he is the leading wicket taker in the present playing cricketers. None of the Australian's/England cricketers criticize their country sportsmen in such a harsh way. If you cannot appreciate, it is better you don't talk about anything bad. He not only talked bad about Bhajji but he commented about Murali who was absloutely correct in his bowling action. The rules have changed and ICC has given some leverage for the bowling action and as per those rules the action of modern day spinner has changed. Some use this as an opportunity and some follow their personal choice of orthodox action. As a cricketer I like Bedi, but as per me his comments about Murali and Bhajji are not acceptable.

  • POSTED BY Sinhabahu on | October 16, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    I never rated Bedi highly at all, and my low opinion of his skills (or lack thereof) was justified by his jealous attacks on Murali.

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  • POSTED BY Sinhabahu on | October 16, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    I never rated Bedi highly at all, and my low opinion of his skills (or lack thereof) was justified by his jealous attacks on Murali.

  • POSTED BY MVRMurty on | October 16, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    Murali is a legend and so is Shane Warne, and someday Bhajji would join them soon(who knows). As of today he is the leading wicket taker in the present playing cricketers. None of the Australian's/England cricketers criticize their country sportsmen in such a harsh way. If you cannot appreciate, it is better you don't talk about anything bad. He not only talked bad about Bhajji but he commented about Murali who was absloutely correct in his bowling action. The rules have changed and ICC has given some leverage for the bowling action and as per those rules the action of modern day spinner has changed. Some use this as an opportunity and some follow their personal choice of orthodox action. As a cricketer I like Bedi, but as per me his comments about Murali and Bhajji are not acceptable.

  • POSTED BY SRAM20 on | October 16, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    Muralitharan was a joke that become very popular! Comparing him with Bedi is gross insult to the very art of spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY dilanz51 on | October 16, 2011, 5:34 GMT

    this guy has an ordinary record. i dont really care about him.

  • POSTED BY on | October 16, 2011, 5:41 GMT

    I don't want to pass value judgements on either Murali or Bedi. Both have been champion cricketers. However, Murali has had his doubters - some of them very illustrious people with no axe to grind. Bedi's genius on the other hand has been undisputed. Even his worst enemies (Murali excluded) have bowed to his magical skills with the ball.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 16, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    I can't imagine anyone who ever saw him play not rating Bedi highly. Whether you agree with his views or not, he was a beautiful bowler to watch, light and graceful on his feet, and he floated the ball in with swerve and dip before breaking it sharply away from right-handers. He had control and variety and, in an era which wasn't very friendly to spin bowlers, he had excellent figures- 266 test wickets @28, with an economy rate of 2.14. In first-class cricket he had over 1500 wickets @21. He was one of a handful of cricketers who made it worth going to a game just to see them perform.

  • POSTED BY cricketSB on | October 16, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Hello fellow comment'ors ... Please be aware that Bedi took a wicket every 80 balls. That's a lot higher than Harbhajan's 68. Warne is at 57 while Murali is at 55. Admittedly batsmen were more defensive in the old days, yet these figures do tell a story about who was more threatening, as opposed to who could bore the batsmen out. For the record: Chandra = 66, Prasanna = 76, Venkat = 95. Subhas Gupte, who didn't get to play much because of the quartet had an SR of 76. So, based on performance alone, Gupte should have kept Bedi-Prasanna-Venkat out of the team.

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | October 16, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    Bedi is 29th on the list of most Test wickets with 266. Kallis is 28th with 270 and Zaheer 27th with 273. In terms of both raw numbers (number of balls bowled, strike rate, economy rate) and context (era, opposition, conditions) there is very little to choose between these three above average bowlers.

  • POSTED BY KarmatBaig on | October 16, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    The best left arm spinner that I have seen bowling with the flight and loop in the air. Deceiving the batsman in flight and never afriad to give the ball a loop even when being hit for runs. Really unfortunate that non of the youngsters after him tried to learn from him the craft of bowling real left arm spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY shrikanthk on | October 16, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Some pretty harsh comments on Bedi here, by people who've never seen him bowl.

    266 wickets at 28 is an outstanding return for an Indian bowler back in the 70s when we had no pace attack to make early inroads for the spinners. Bedi seldom had the luxury of bowling with 400-500 runs to defend, unlike Kumble and Harbhajan who have often had that luxury.

    For the Warne-Murali generation accustomed to spinners averaging in the low-mid twenties, please study your history a little bit. Until Shane Warne came along, 28 used to be regarded as an outstanding average for a spin bowler. Few slow bowlers in history have done better than that. One has to go all the way back to the days of Grimmett and O'Reilly to find spinners averaging under 25.

    I don't see how one can judge players based on SRs. It's the bowling average that one must look at, for the simple reason that averages have remained more stable over the years unlike SRs which vary significantly across eras.