Bishan, who claimed 266 wickets in 67 Tests in an illustrious international career between 1967 and 1979, was a man who would call a spade a spade, a jovial person, a hard taskmaster and a professional on the field.Former left-arm pacer Karsan Ghavri, who played a lot of cricket under Bishan’s captaincy, called his former captain ‘yaaro ka yaar’.
Former India spin legend Bishen Singh Bedi passes away
“It’s a sad day. It is shocking news. 77 is not that old age. He was a top-class cricketer, yaaro ka yaar tha (was best of friends). He used to have fun and play cricket with unmatched focus. He was a tremendous man. He has done a lot for youngsters and cricketers, especially from Punjab and Delhi,” Ghavri, who played 39 Tests and 19 ODIs for India between 1975 and 1981, told TimesofIndia.com.
“I played a lot of Test cricket under his captaincy. He captained the side in Australia and then in Pakistan. He was my captain in the home Test series too. We played against each other in domestic cricket. He was a great competitor. You go to England, West Indies, Australia or New Zealand, Bishan has his own popularity there,” Ghavri said.
For former India wicketkeeper Kiran More, Bishan’s death is a personal loss. Bishan was one of the selectors when More started playing for India.
More, who played 49 Tests and 94 ODIs, is shell-shocked by the passing away of the spin legend.
“It is a very sad day for Indian cricket and for me as well because he was my mentor. He was the coach on three tours. When I got into the Indian team, he was my coach. He was my selector too. He was my favourite and I learnt a lot from him. It is a huge personal loss for me,” More said.
“I spent a lot of time with him, especially during the tours to England and New Zealand. He always used to tell us to play hard, work hard but enjoy the game. He said go out, meet people, enjoy, have fun, make friends but be focussed towards the game,” More said with a lump in his throat.
Balwinder Sandhu, one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup winning team, said Bishan was the architect behind India becoming ODI champion.
Bishan was one of the selectors of the committee headed by Ghulam Ahmed. The committee had Chandu Borde, Chandu Sarwate, Bishan and Pankaj Roy as the other members.
“He was the hero of that 1983 World Cup-winning team. He was the hero of those heroes because he selected that team. He was one of the selectors,” Balwinder, who claimed two wickets in the 1983 final against the mighty West Indies, said.
“Bishan was the reason for making cricket bloom in the north, especially in Punjab. He did a lot for cricket. He used to send me shlokas from the Guru Granth Sahib every morning and I read those to start my day. I will miss those badly. We used to chat over the phone quite often,” he said.
“I have admired that man since my childhood. He was my hero. He was always there to motivate me. He was my selector, he was my manager, he was my mentor as well. We both travelled together with the team to Pakistan. We had a great time with him. He was a great man. Zindadil is the word for me. He is the man who will call a spade a spade. He had that guts and courage. He lived his life laughing out loud, cracking jokes and making others laugh too. He was a great motivator and a superb person,” Balwinder, who played 8 Tests and 22 ODIs, added.
Former India cricketer Venkatpathy Raju also recalled the day when he met his first India coach, Bishan. Raju made his debut in 1990 against New Zealand in Christchurch.
“He was my first coach when I made my debut in New Zealand. He was a straightforward man. He was very much passionate about the game, a hard taskmaster. He had that quality of reading anyone’s game. He was always there and always spoke the truth on the face. That was Bishan Singh Bedi, always a man of his word,” Raju, who featured in 28 Tests and 53 ODIs, said.