Bedi believed in team that eats together stays together: Kumble

Bengaluru, Oct 23 (UNI) Former India spinner Anil Kumble on Monday paid rich tributes to the legendary spinner Bishen Singh Bedi who passed away at the age of 77 in New Delhi.

Bedi was regarded as one of the best left-arm spinners of all times, and had taken 266 wickets in 67 Tests between 1967 and 1979 with 14 five-wicket hauls. He also took seven wickets in 10 One Day Internationals, a format that was still at the stage of evolution.

Taking to X, Kumble reproduced excerpts from a report written on Bedi’s 75th birthday which touched upon the personality of the legendary spinner. At one time, he described Bedi as a hard task master and at the other, called him as a person who stood by his opinion even if it riled people.

He also threw light on Bedi’s mantra of keeping the team together, and being available for the betterment of Indian cricket.

Kumble said Bedi was particular about the team lunching together because he was convinced that a team which eats together stays together.

“We’d have physical fitness and fielding sessions in the morning, with afternoons dedicated to honing cricketing skills. Bishan paaji was particular about the team lunching together because he was convinced that kind of bonding among players was essential.

He believed the team was like a family, and that a family which eats together stays together,” he said.

Kumble said Bedi was a hard task master and did not compromise on work ethic. “Bishan paaji wasn’t just a softie, as I came to know not long afterwards! He preferred to focus a lot on physical fitness. There was no compromise on work ethic; in that regard, he was a hard taskmaster,” he said.

The former Captain of Indian Cricket team added: “On the England tour, I had joined the team a little later after appearing for my Engineering exams. I joined the team, and later, we reached Birmingham around 1 am.

My body clock said it was 5.30 am, I had just arrived from India and had yet to adjust to the time difference. We had practice the following morning, from 9.30 am. Still terribly jet-lagged and feeling the strain, I struggled to match Bishan paaji’s expectations.

“I remember him saying in his inimitable style, “Come on son, you have weak legs.” He summoned my good friend Venkatapathi Raju, instructed him to sit on my shoulder and told me to do baithaks. I could hear my back go! That’s Bishan paaji – uncompromising, to go with his heart of gold.”

Kumble said he loved Bedi calling a spade a spade, and always stood by his opinion though it riled some of them.

“Whenever anything surrounding Indian cricket transpires, he immediately reaches out, sometimes with a helping hand, to others with a biting remark. I love that he calls a spade a spade, that he is happy to speak his mind even if it doesn’t always sit well with everyone. He has an opinion that he stands by, come what may. He is a very spiritual man, and many of his messages reflect that side of his persona, too,” he said.

On his soft nature, Kumble said: “In 1990, before the England tour, we had a camp in Bengaluru, and it was there that I had the first experience of Bishan paaji’s big heart and generosity.

“I had asked him if it would be possible for the Indian team to visit RV College of Engineering, where I was a student. I was only a rookie, and it could have been construed as an over-enthusiastic request from an excited youngster, but in a fantastic gesture, Bishan paaji readily agreed and brought the whole team over to the college. That made a lasting impression on me.”

The India’s spin legend said Bedi continued to follow his career closely and always had a cricketing point to drive home.

“I was dropped after the England tour, and by the time I made a comeback, Ajit Wadekar had become the cricket manager, but Bishan paaji continued to follow my career closely. He’d not hesitate to pick up the phone and call me, either complimenting me on a good performance or offering suggestions and advice.

Bedi always had a cricketing point to drive home, it was wonderful to have had so many conversations about the game with him,” he said.

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