As the Cricket World Cup tournament rolls on in India, the country mourns the loss of one of its cricketing greats Bishan Singh Bedi. India’s former captain, and a member of India’s legendary spin quartet between 1967 and 1979, passed away on October 23 at the age of 77. In 67 Test matches, the iconic spin bowler took 266 wickets including 14 five-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket haul.
Bedi who was born in Amritsar, represented Northern Punjab at only 15. His skillful bowling led to an illustrious career playing in Ranji Trophy matches and for Northamptonshire, England.
Cricket writer H. Natarajan described “the purity and perfection of Bedi’s art” as “a connoisseur’s dream. He was stealthy, silent, and deadly, a master of deception who conjured variations in flight, loop, spin, and pace without any perceptible change in action” Natarajan called Bedi “a generous man possessing infinite wisdom,” who possessed an undiminished zest and passion for the game.
Between the 1960s-1970s, Bishan Bedi made history as a key member of India’s world-class spin quartet which included Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. “He had just about every trick up his sleeve, not to mention his flight,” said former teammate B. Chandrasekhar.
Bedi was noted particularly for his great sense of humor, forthrightness on and off the pitch, and his distinctive, colorful turbans.
Former India left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi credited Bedi as a coach, mentor, and father figure. “We would spend hours together talking about the art of spin, and about life.”
Bedi’s passing, from age-related illness, drew homage from cricketers and fans alike. On Twitter (X), cricketer Virat Kohli tweeted, “Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Bishan Singh Bedi ji.”
One fan characterized Bedi’s unique style, writing that “He didn’t just play the game, he truly graced it. Bringing a sense of ballet to the ball, making his deliveries dance. Deceiving batsmen with flight, dip, and a rip. And when he wasn’t making the ball talk, he wasn’t afraid of speaking his mind.”
India’s PM Modi also tweeted, “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.”
B. Chandrashekar paid tribute to his former teammate, saying, “It is very sad news for me. I have shared such a long friendship with Bedi. He was so much more than a teammate, a true friend whom I could call anytime and speak. It’s a huge personal loss.”