Bishan Bedi, former captain of India and one of the greatest spin bowlers, has died aged 77.
A slow left-armer with an armoury of variations, Bedi featured in 67 Tests between 1967 and 1979, claiming 266 wickets at an average of 28.71. At the time of his retirement, he was India’s leading wicket-taker.
A Sikh from the Punjab, who bowled in a patka, Bedi was a recognisable and outspoken figure.
He was instrumental in a spin quartet also comprising leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and off-break bowlers Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Erapalli Prasanna that helped India’s rise in the 1960s and 1970s.
His best Test bowling figures were against Australia, 7-98 in an innings at Calcutta in 1969-70, and 10-194 in the match at Perth in 1977-78.
Bedi represented Northamptonshire in England and his total of 1,560 first-class wickets is the most by any Indian bowler.
Bedi led his country in 22 Tests, winning six times, between 1975 and 1979. He was captain when India became the first team to encounter the West Indies’ four-man pace attack that would dominate cricket under Clive Lloyd and protested against “intimidatory bowling”.
After three batsmen were injured on a poor wicket in the 1976 Kingston Test he declared the first innings at six down and was one of five batsmen ‘absent hurt’ in the second as West Indies won the Test and series.
He also conceded an ODI, against Pakistan in Sahiwal in 1978, after Sarfraz Nawaz had been allowed to bowl four successive bouncers with India requiring 23 runs from 14 balls with eight wickets in hand.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the tributes, saying on X: “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.
India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added: “Sad to hear about the demise of the great Bishen Singh Bedi, apart from being a great cricketer, he was an affable person and went the extra mile to help young cricketers.”
Bedi had underwent multiple surgeries over the last two years including a knee operation a month ago. He is survived by his wife and two children.