Bishan Bedi, the India cricket great whose dazzling left-arm spin claimed 266 test wickets, has died. He was 77.
The death of Bedi, who underwent multiple surgeries over the last two years that included a knee operation a month ago, was confirmed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Monday.
“The BCCI mourns the sad demise of former India Test Captain and legendary spinner, Bishan Singh Bedi,” the BCCI wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fans in these tough times. May his soul rest in peace.”
Bedi was part of the famous Indian spin quartet with Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan in the 1970s.
He grabbed his 266 wickets in 67 test matches, but played only 10 ODIs between 1974-79, picking up seven wickets. He took 1,560 first-class wickets — the most by any Indian bowler ever — playing for various teams including Delhi and Northern Punjab in India and Northamptonshire in England.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes, saying on X: “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.”
Bedi made an impressive test debut in a series against Australia in 1969-70 when he picked up 21 wickets. He kept on troubling other major test playing nations like West Indies and England before eventually succeeding Mansoor Ali Khan as India skipper in 1976. His first win as test captain came at Port-of-Spain when India chased down a historic 406. He led India 22 times in total, winning six of them.
Geoff Allardice, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, said Bedi was one of the masters of flight and turn.
“I would like to extend heartfelt condolences from everyone at the ICC to the family of one of the greats of the game and one whose exploits in test cricket will be remembered for a long time," Allardice said. “He was the kind of spinner who could excel in different conditions and would have been one of the greats in any era.”
Known for wearing colorful patkas and a graceful delivery hiding devastating variety, Bedi was outspoken on the field and often got embroiled in controversies.
In 1976 he declared India’s second innings early at Kingston to protest intimidatory bowling by Caribbean fast bowlers. With three Indian batters already out of the game after being hit by West Indies pacers, Bedi claimed there weren’t enough fit players available to come out and bat. West Indies eventually won the test match by 10 wickets.
Bedi also criticized Sri Lanka spin great Muttiah Muralitharan for his bowling action. He refused to compete in Kerry Packer’s lucrative World Series Cricket in 1978 and claimed that he was approached by the rebel cricket league.
But his love for the game was clear, even when on the receiving end. Cricinfo.com website said Bedi “often applauded batters when they hit him for six.”
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