Calcutta: Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi is among the serial headline-makers. On Sunday evening, the candid Bedi created more than a flutter by saying that Pragyan Ojha has a suspect action.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB)’s Annual Awards ceremony, he said: “I’m not a great fan of Ojha… That’s because of his suspect action. That’s how bluntly I can put it.”
Bedi is well-known for speaking his mind and he never retreats from his viewpoint. A case in point is his views about Muttiah Muralidharan’s bowling. Majority of the cricket world may bow in front of the Sri Lankan as one of the greatest spinners that the game has ever seen, but to Bedi, the wizard is just a chucker.
He, however, is highly impressed with the other spinner in the Indian team — Ravichandran Ashwin. “He is a very intelligent spinner... But he needs to prove his worth in Test cricket.”
Known as a traditionalist, Bedi sarcastically added: “Nowadays, what is happening is that the spinners are bowling faster and the pacers are slowing down… I think that there is a huge dearth of spinners in the world,” he said.
He reasoned that since most of the matches are played on batsmen-friendly pitches these days, spinners experiment too much in order to find success.
“I think the spinners around are trying too many variations nowadays... This is because the Test matches are generally played on pitches favouring the batsmen."
“Pitches are mostly covered these days… So it becomes flatter. The spinners don’t get much help. I know that cricket is primarily a batsman’s game, but it is the bowlers who win you matches. So, you need to prepare wickets which help both the batsman and the bowler,” he said.
What, then, is the way out for the wayward spinners? Bedi’s advice is simple: stick to the basics if you want to succeed. “There is no short cut to success… You should work hard and learn the basics. You should stick to your basics to be successful,” he said.
Moving away from the playing arena, Bedi also criticised the attitude of the modern day cricketers, saying that the present crop have no respect for “cricket culture”.
“When India won the World Cup in 2011, they were felicitated by the President the next day… I saw it on the television and was deeply pained to see that the players were in their casuals. Here, at the CAB Awards, I am pleased to see Laxmi Ratan Shukla (who was adjudged the Best Cricketer for the 2011-12 season) in the right attire… There is a thing called cricket culture and that should be maintained,” Bedi said.
Bedi is also of the opinion that one should not prosecute ‘tainted’ leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, who has tested positive for consumption of drugs.
“Let’s not jump the gun… We should rather wait and watch. I know Rahul… I don’t think he will commit such a mistake,” he said.
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For the record, Rahul along with Bedi’s son Angad and South African player Wayne Parnell were caught at a rave party in May.
Asked whether his son is guilty, he said: “I know my son very well… I have full faith in him. He cannot break my trust.”
In what would sound as a huge motivation of Bengal cricket, Bedi said that Manoj Tiwary has the credentials to fill-up the void in the Indian team left by Rahul Dravid’s retirement.
“Rahul Dravid’s retirement has left a huge void in the batting order... I think Manoj or (Cheteshwar) Pujara are the ideal candidates to fill in the boots of Rahul.”