Bishan Bedi dies at the age of 77

Former India captain Bishan Bedi has died at the age of 77 in Delhi.

Bedi was ailing for the last two years and had undergone multiple surgeries including one on the knee about a month ago. He is survived by his wife Anju, and two children, Neha and Angad.

Widely considered one of the game’s greatest left-arm spinners, Bedi represented India in 67 Tests and ten ODIs from 1967 to 1979. He was India’s highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 266 at an average of 28.71, at the time of his retirement. Bedi, the unorthodox legspinner Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, and offspinners Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan made up the celebrated spin quartet that dominated Indian cricket in the 1970s.

Outside his feats in Indian cricket, Bedi also enjoyed a successful career in the County Championship with Northamptonshire, for whom he took 434 first-class wickets at 20.89.

As a bowler, Bedi was a connoisseur’s delight, renowned for the classical beauty of his action and his ability to maintain a perfect length over long spells while subtly varying his pace, trajectory and release.

“Like most great bowlers, his variation was subtle,” the England captain Mike Brearley wrote of him. “Of all the slow bowlers of Bedi’s time, none forced you to commit yourself later than he did. With tiny, last-second adjustments of wrist and hand-angle, he could bowl successive balls that looked identical, perhaps as if each would land on a length just outside off stump.

“But with the first he would cock his wrist more, deliver the ball slightly higher – it would spin sharply, stay wider of off, and be shorter than you anticipated. The next ball, ever so slightly undercut and a little quicker, would pitch further up and come in towards middle and leg stumps. To the first ball you were likely to play inside the line, and away from the body; to the second, outside the line, and round your front leg, so that there was a risk of inside edge on to the pad.

“The error of judgment induced in the batsman could be as much as a yard in length and a foot in width. And he could make these changes according to what he sensed the batsman was trying to do, in the moment of delivery, so firm and balanced were his action and rhythm.”

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