Chandigarh: The great left arm spinner of the 60s and 70s who took 266 wickets at 28.71 was among the royalty of cricket .His 1500 wickets in first class cricket remains the highest for an Indian.His action was as iconic as Michael Holding’s .
His control,dip and spin left the greatest batsmen dumbfounded .In the words of Jim Laker “my idea of paradise is watching Ray Lindwall and Bishan Bedi bowling at Lords” .
The “Sardar of Spin” was not only a great player but also a great captain ,who stood for his players ,paid from his pocket and fought with administrators .He took stand against “intimidating” West Indies and Slippery “Vaseline “ tainted English bowlers .
As a man he was large hearted and gracious , untainted by greed or narrow nationalism. He had the courage and confidence to bowl to Tony Lewis in nets to sort out his problems against spin while playing against India.It was his gem to Iqbal Qasim “the most deadly ball on a turner is the one which does not turn” which helped Pakistan to win at Bangalore in 1987.
As a captain and coach who took the non descript and underachieving Delhi and Punjab to the heights of domestic honours ,Bedi is considered a legend .
As a plain speaking former great who always spoke his mind and never kowtowed to authorities like Gavaskar and Shastri ,he was in a league of his own in Indian cricket .He spoke his mind against Murlidharan , fought against the corrupt DDCA and stood for Indian farmers during the farmers agitation.
When others sold their soul for money ,IPL and TV , Bish remained reclusive and proud always retaining his conscience and love for the pristine values of the game , a thorn in the side of BCCI .
Bedi was surely our Muhammad Ali .