Bishan Singh Bedi is a former Indian cricketer widely acclaimed as one of the most celebrated Indian spinners of all time. His main strength was to bowl with easy action and deliver that extra flighted variation to puzzle the batters with his small turn from the wicket. He was part of the renowned Indian spin quartet during the 1960s and 70s alongside Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar.
Bishan Singh Bedi was born on Wednesday, 25 September 1946 (age 75 years; as of 2021) in Amritsar, Punjab. His zodiac sign is Libra. He started playing cricket at the age of 13 after listening to the cricket commentary on the radio. Soon, he moved to Delhi and played his first Ranji game a few later. In 1966, he made his international debut and impressed everyone with the two wickets against West Indies at Eden Gardens.
While he was making his mark in the longest format, selectors in 1974 decided to take him in an ODI series against England at their homeland.
He was featured in the 1975 ICC World Cup and helped India to register their first-ever win in ODI history. Carrying forward his form, he was made the skipper of the national side in 1978 but could only manage to play just 22 test games during that tenure. In 1981, he retired from all forms of the game. Post-retirement, he started working as the national team’s coach and manager in 1990. He also featured in many sports show as an expert where his fury comments on various cricket topics were admired by many. In February 2021, he was admitted to Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi after suffering from a heart attack. However, his condition was stable.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 80 kg
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Gyan Singh Bedi. He has 13 siblings and he is the youngest of all.
Wife & Children
He was married twice. His first wife Glenith is an Australian and after getting married, they had a divorce. He had one son and one daughter from her. His son’s name is Gavasinder Singh and his daughter’s name is Gillinder Singh.
He got married to his second wife named Anju Inderjit Bedi.
From her too, he had one son and one daughter. His son Angad Bedi is a model and actor.
He is married to a Miss India 2002, model, and actress Neha Dhupia.
His daughter’s name is Neha Bedi and she is a lifestyle columnist and vlogger.
Bishan Singh Bedi made his Test debut on 31 December 1966 against West Indies at Eden Gardens, Calcutta (now Kolkata).
He made his One Day International debut on 13 July 1974 against England at Yorkshire Cricket Ground in Leeds, England.
There was no T20 at that time.
- First Indian to take 200 Test wickets.
- Second-most wickets taken in India-New Zealand test match history (57 wickets) after Richard Hadlee. CricketTimes.com
- Best bowling average in terms of Indian bowling pair in test alongside Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (27.96). Cricketcountry.com
- The only cricketer to be part of India’s maiden victory over the West Indies, Australia, England, and New Zealand. Cricketcountry.com
- The most economic spell in the 60-over ODI game with 12 overs for 6 runs and one wicket against East Africa during the 1975 ICC World Cup on 11 June 1975. Cricketcountry.com
- The second-best economy rate among Indian cricketers (2.14) who have played 100 or more Test cricket after Vinoo Mankad. Cricketcountry.com
- Northern Punjab (1961–1967)
- Delhi (1968–1981)
- Northamptonshire (County cricket) (1972–1977)
Bishan Singh Bedi was born when India was struggling with freedom against the Britishers. It all started from the streets of Amritsar where Bedi used to play marbles which ultimately helped to increase his finger strength in the future. He first started playing cricket when once he was hearing a cricket match commentary on the radio between India and West Indies at the age of 13. Initially, he took up cricket to decrease his weight as advised by his friend. ITV India Youtube Channel Soon in 1974-75, he played his first Ranji season where he took record 64 wickets after moving to Delhi in 1968-69.
He played his first international game against West Indies in 1966 where he took two crucial wickets and helped India to restrict opposition on a score of 390 in the first inning. Although, West Indies won this match by an inning and 45 runs.
He took his first five-wicket haul in a test match from 22 to 27 February 1968 against New Zealand. Bedi took their first wicket when Kiwis were 208 runs. Soon, he took five more wickets and finished his spell with 6 wickets for 127 runs. He then took two more wickets in the second inning after giving 21 runs in 17 overs. However, New Zealand won this match by six wickets. His best test bowling performance came against Australia at Eden Gardens, Calcutta (now Kolkata) in December 1969. In that match, he took the key wickets of their captain Billy Lawry and Doug Walters. He ended his bowling spell with 7 after conceding 98 runs but couldn’t prevent India’s defeat by ten wickets. One of his most memorable spells came against East Africa on 11 June 1975 during the 1975 ICC World Cup, which coincidentally was India’s first-ever victory in One-day international cricket. While East Africa was batting first, Bedi’s bowling halted their run flow, and at one moment, their batting was having no clue against his bowling. Bedi finished his spell with a record 6 runs and one wicket in 12 overs and helped India to reduce opposition on a score of 120 runs in less than 56 overs.
Bedi opens up in a TV series about the unofficial test with Sri Lanka in 1975 in Nagpur by recalling that,
“I was captain of the team. We were made to stay in an MLA hostel. It was during the month of December and the winter was at its peak. But only I had warm water coming in my room, and not other players. So I called the secretary of the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) and told him to provide warm water to all players. I told him that people who would be coming in numbers to watch the match will not come to see him but the players. I had an altercation with him and he behaved very rudely. I must have abused him too. It was so bad that after the match ended, they (VCA) did not even book the first-class railway ticket for me and another player. We had to travel sitting in the luggage rack of the general compartment in that cold weather.”
In 1976, he was designated as a captain of the Indian cricket team after replacing Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. The first time, his team won was against West Indies at Port-Of-Spain in the third test of the 1976-77 series. In this match, India chased down the record target of 406 runs in the fourth inning. India then went on to win the test series against New Zealand by 2-0 at home. However, he could not carry on with his form and suffered tournament defeats against England, Australia, and Pakistan after which he was sacked from the captaincy position and was replaced by Sunil Gavaskar in 1978. At that time, he was also playing for his home state, which is Punjab, and then moved to Delhi to play for that state until he got retired in 1981. Besides this, he also played county cricket for Northamptonshire. Post-retirement, he took up the responsibility of a coach and manager of the Indian cricket team. He was given the inexperienced Indian side, which was led by Mohammad Azharuddin against the host New Zealand. He came to the limelight when he offended the Indian team by signaling them to throw into the Pacific Ocean as a result of their poor performances during that time. India failed to chase the modest target of 150 against the Aussies. He also opposed Azhar’s decision to bat first against England at Lord’s in 1990 and ended on a losing side in a series that ended with 1-0. Bedi however, was sacked from this position after the official statement from the Indian team, which stated that they don’t require any coach or cricket manager. After that, he became the coach of Punjab, Delhi, and Jammu & Kashmir Ranji sides. Under his guidance, Punjab registered their win in the Ranji’s final in 1992-93.
Some of his most memorable series where he has taken most of his wickets are against Australia in 1969-70 where he took 21 wickets. Against England in 1972-73 where he took 25 wickets. Against West Indies in 1975-76 where he took 18 wickets. Against New Zealand in 1976-77 where he took 22 wickets. Against England in the same year where he took 25 wickets. Against Australia in 1977-78 where he took 31 wickets. In tests, he played 67 matches and took 266 wickets with an average of 28.71. His best test bowling performance came against Australia on 16 December 1977 at WACA, Perth where he took 7 wickets after conceding 98 runs. Overall, he has bowled 3560.4 overs and conceded 7637 runs with an economy rate of 2.14. His most impressive record is against England against whom he has taken 85 wickets in 22 matches. This was followed up by West Indies and then New Zealand. 1976 is the year when he had taken most wickets (48 wickets with an average of 20.00). In ODIs, he has played ten games and taken 7 wickets at an average of 48.57. Overall, he has bowled 98.2 overs and conceded 340 runs with an economy of 3.40. His best ODI bowling performance was registered against Pakistan on 1 October 1978 at Racecourse Ground (now Bugti Stadium) in Quetta, Pakistan.
- Vaseline Incident– During the third test in Madras against England in 1977/78, Bedi charged England’s John Liver that he was using vaseline to polish the ball to get that variable seam movement. However, Bedi was proved wrong when it was found that John Liver was using vaseline as a vaseline terrazzo to keep the sweat away from his eyes. Indianmirror
- Match Forfeiting incident- During an international game against Pakistan at Sahiwal in 1978 when Bedi was the captain, he called the on-field batters and conceded the game in protest of their bowler Sarfraz Nawaz bowling four bouncers in an over without being called a wide by the umpire. At that point, India was on a verge of victory when they require 23 runs off 14 balls with eight wickets in hand. Indianmirror
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Indian Cricketer of the Year in 1967
- Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 1969
- Padma Shri Award by the Government of India in 1970
- CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004
- He was inducted into the Wisden India Hall of Fame in 2015
- Cricketers: Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar
- Actress: Sharmila Tagore
- Singer: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
- His hobbies include reading books and cooking.
- His mentors’ names are Gurpal Singh and Gyan Prakash.
- There was always a personality clash between Bishan Singh Bedi and Sunil Gavaskar on a number of topics. However, they strongly respect each other game. This can easily be assessed from the fact that Bedi named his first-born son by the name of Gavaskar. Bedi’s career came to standstill when Gavaskar was raised as the new captain of the Indian cricket team in 1979. On the other hand, when Bedi became the national selector, Gavaskar was axed from the team. A few years later, in 2007, Bedi named Gavaskar as a ‘destructive influence’ on Indian cricket. The Quint
- Bedi is a very generous man who once donated blood in Karachi on Cavalier’s tour in response to a news appeal. Impressed with his gesture, then-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto gifted him with two carpets and a tea set. Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack
- Revealing his coaching style, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar once told in an interview when Bedi was a national coach in 1990 that
“Bishan paaji was ahead of the times in terms of preparing us for the matches. The nets were conducted in a serious manner, and he would, many a time, join by bowling to the batsmen. Fiercely competitive, he would challenge the batsman to step out or hit him to a specific target. It was a great sight when he won those battles. I had the privilege of facing him in the nets and it was evident that he was still working on setting up a batsman, and I had to be at my absolute best while facing him.”
He further added
“I always had this feeling that he treated me like his son. He would greet me as ‘Sashoo, my son’, and I could always feel the warmth in his tight hug.”
- He was always reluctant against Twenty20 cricket and tagged it as “suffocating” and ‘the most vulgar expression of cricket”. He also targetted the Indian Premier League (IPL) and named it ‘Scam’. Further, he told,
“I don’t want to say anything about IPL. There’s not a bigger scam in India than IPL. Nobody here knows where IPL’s money comes and goes. The second edition of the IPL happened in South Africa, millions of money were taken out of the country without the permission of the Finance Minister.”
- Renowned sportswriter Suresh Menon quoted Bedi in a newspaper column as The Hindu
“If the spin quartet were a group of bank robbers, Prasanna would be the one with the plan, Venkat the one who would draw the map pointing out where the dangers lay and how to get past the cameras, Chandra would be in charge of the explosives. Bedi would be the one with the plans to distract the authorities, tricking them into looking in the wrong place.”
- Mike brearely, a former England’s captain narrates Bedi’s bowling as ‘beautiful’ in his book. Further, he adds,
“It indeed was beautiful. In fact, most left-spinners in the world of cricket would love to imitate the fascinating style of delivery that made Bedi such a popular bowler on the circuit. “It was natural,” Bedi is modest. Few know that he would, with none for company, bowl hours and hours every day to hone his skills in Amritsar as a teenager under the tutelage of his guru Gyan Prakash.”
- Bedi is an ardent criticizer of modern-day off-spinner who chuck during bowling including renowned spinners Harbhajan Singh and Muttiah Muralitharan. He criticized them for their bent arm for more than 15-degree as standardized by the ICC and termed Muralitharan as a ‘javelin thrower’. Further, he adds,
“Murali might complete 1000 wickets in Tests but they would count as mere run-outs in my eye. He is a Sri Lankan bandit closing in on a dream artist called Shane Warne”
- He also remarked former Australian coach John Buchanan with comment,
‘Tell us John, have you made this Australian team great, or have they made you?”
- Bedi protested against the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) in December 2020 when they named Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium in the name of the former union minister Arun Jaitley. He made it imperative for them to remove Jaitley’s name from the spectator’s stand. If not, then he will take legal action against DDCA. The Times of India
- He was admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi on 18 February 2018 after suffering from a heart attack. After his body checkup, it was found that all three heart vessels are critically blocked. For this, he underwent Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery to remove clotting from his brain. The New Indian Express
- In 2023, Bishan Singh Bedi made his acting debut with the film ‘Ghoomer,’ starring Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Angad Bedi, and others. Singh played a cameo role in the film. ThePrint