The name Bishan Singh Bedi conjures up one of the finest bowling actions in cricket poetry in motion. The most successful of India’s legendary spin quartet of the 1970s, Bedi played 67 Tests and picked up 266 wickets, making him the highest Indian wicket-taker at the time. He was a master of deception who combined variations in flight, spin and pace to beguile the best of batsmen. Playing at a time when Indian cricket was just coming into its own, he featured in the incredible Indian victories in England and in the Caribbean in the 1970s.
There has always been more to Bedi than spin bowling. Forthright and outspoken, he clashed with officialdom as he crusaded for players’ rights. He was also dogged by controversy, provoking extreme responses to his actions: objecting to the use of Vaseline by John Lever, declaring India’s second innings at Kingston in protest against intimidatory bowling by the West Indians and, famously, calling Muttiah Muralitharan a chucker.
This portrait by Suresh Menon, one of India’s finest sports writers, is a remarkable account of an astonishing character a true cricketing great whose zest and passion for the game remain undiminished.