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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW DELHI: Indian cricketing hero and spin great Bishan Singh Bedi has died aged 77, sports minister Anurag Thakur said Monday, calling it a “huge loss” to the sport.
“Former captain of the Indian cricket team, a bowler who was always remembered by the nation, Bishan Singh Bedi, is no more,” Thakur, who is also the former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told reporters.
“It’s a deeply sad news and a huge loss for cricket. The whole of cricket world stands with his family in this hour of grief.”
Bedi, who was part of the famous spin quartet of Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, claimed 266 wickets in 67 Tests in an illustrious international career between 1967 and 1979.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply saddened” by Bedi’s death.
“His passion for the sport was unwavering and his exemplary bowling performances led India to numerous memorable victories,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.
“He will continue to inspire future generations of cricketers,” Modi added.
Bedi, a left-arm spinner, also played 10 one-day internationals for India between 1974-79.
Sachin Tendulkar recalled his time with Bedi, who was India coach when the batting great was finding his feet in international cricket.
“To Bishan Paaji (elder brother), I wasn’t just another cricketer; I was like a son. Under his nurturing guidance, I scored my first 100 in England,” Tendulkar wrote on X.
“On chilly NZ evenings, we’d sit over meals, and I’d hang on to every story he told, every piece of wisdom he shared. Today, there’s an echoing silence where his voice used to be. The world seems a little emptier without you, Paaji.”
Bedi was often blunt in his criticism of peers, cricketers, and faltering administrators of the sport.
“Legendary spinner and someone who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind,” former India batsman Virender Sehwag posted on X.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) paid tribute to the spin legend.
“I would like to extend heartfelt condolences from everyone at the ICC to the family of one of the greats of the game and one whose exploits in Test cricket will be remembered for a long time,” ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice said in a statement Monday.
“He was the kind of spinner who could excel in different conditions and would have been one of the greats in any era.”
BCCI secretary Jay Shah said: “Indian cricket has lost an icon today. Bedi Sir defined an era of cricket and he left an indelible mark on the game with his artistry as a spin bowler and his impeccable character.”
With a big turban and a smiling face, Bedi was a regular at cricket events in New Delhi, but his failing health in recent years kept him from having an active social life.
Bedi is survived by two sons and two daughters, a pair each from his two marriages.
His younger son Angad is married to Neha Dhupia, an actress and model crowned Miss India in 2002.
Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam said he was “sad” at Bedi’s death.
“I had a very cordial and friendly relationship with him, he was a great spinner and human being,” Alam told AFP.
“It’s a great loss for cricket in general and Indo-Pak cricket in particular.”
Another former Pakistan captain, Asif Iqbal, recalled Bedi’s greatness.
“Bedi’s death is sad news for me. He was an extraordinary man. If you speak to anyone in Pakistan or India he will tell you how great a man he was,” Iqbal tod AFP.
“He was a great bowler who won many matches for India. I enjoyed playing with him and against him. May his soul rest in peace.”
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