Bishan Singh Bedi is one of the three Indians in the ICC’s Hall of Fame. Currently touring Birmingham with a team of budding cricketers, he opens up in this conversation with Boria Majumdar
What was it like to be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
It is always a good feeling to get recognised for what you have honestly done in life. Having dedicated an entire life to this game, it is satisfying to see people take note of your contribution.
Have you received your cap yet?
No. David Morgan asked me where I want to receive it. I would have loved to take it from him in Punjab or, for that matter, in Delhi. If that isn’t possible, then I’ll take it at Lord’s, which is one of my favourite grounds. Maybe he can give it to me at the conference (laughs).
Tell me about how the game has evolved in the half century you have been associated with it.
Not all things have changed for the better. For example, I remain unconvinced about the 15 degree law. It is arbitrary. Again, every off spinner now wants to bowl the doosra, which is not something you would want to see. I’d love to see some spinners trying the conventional art form — loop, spin and bounce — and getting wickets that way. Bring your body into play and deliver something that has conventional class written all over it.
And what about the formats?
Look, you need innovation and T20 is one such innovation. However, Test cricket will always continue to be the real test. It is for the connoisseur. It is the real art. It is cricket’s jewel in the crown. No one can undermine the classical form of the game. And you will see that Test cricket will continue to thrive despite all outside pressures. See what is going on with the Ashes – that’s what Test cricket can do to you.
I’d love to see some spinners trying the conventional art form – loop, spin and bounce
Do you think there is excessive commercialisation in cricket?
The trick is to balance things. You need money to run the game, attract the best talent and also make the game compelling. Why would you play cricket if you have to suffer all your life for having played it? Other sports such as tennis, football and motor sports have money. Why not cricket?
You have been associated with the game for more than half a century. How do you want to see the game go forward?
There’s a lot the ICC can do. Cricket today is a game that brings millions together. At the same time, we must remember it is a sport, pure and simple. The ICC can bring together the people of the world through it and can contribute a lot to society. That’s what I want the sport to do in the future. And on the field I want players to play hard and play spirited – that’s what the game is all about.