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Bishan Singh Bedi: As the camera caught him
Bedi was one of our most-photographed sportspersons in the 1970s — his artistry in cricket something that many a cameraman struggled to match on film
Live sports was rare and rationed on TV in the 1970s and 80s before the advent of Satellite TV and cable. Grainy black & white visuals, unimaginative camera angles (except channel 9) and frequent power cuts ensured that our glimpse of sports icons was fleeting and wistful.
Our insatiable craving & appetite for sporting action and our heroes was filled by radio, print & photography. Radio created suspense and drama, print heightened the imagination. However it was print photography which enjoyed a golden age in the 1970s and 80s which made our heroes accessible and intimate.
Photos, posters and portraits of Lillee, Imran, Gavaskar, Becker, Maradona and Carl Lewis adored our living rooms, hostels and bedrooms and filled our scrapbooks. Their cards were standard currency among school boys . Photography provided an aura and mystique to players in contrast to the age of TV and social media which followed .
Bishan Bedi in the 1970s was one of the most photographed cricketers on the planet. His resplendent Patkas and amble from side on, before that gentle leap and high loop made connoisseurs swoon.
Patrick Eager, the doyen of Cricket Photography took some of the most iconic photos of Bishan Bedi including the one where he is floating in the air before delivery, arms in perfect symmetry, feet performing a ballet.
However his most famous photo was taken by Ken Kelly. This close up of Bedi encapsulates the perfection of the man. His eyes locked on his prey , his arms high above his head, his right thumb lightly touching the ball imparting an unconscious final thrust to the ball before delivery . Ken Kelly followed Bishan all over England to get this elusive frame, for this perfect picture. It took him 4 years and hundred of hours of intense patience, wait and concentration to finally land this intimate action portrait of the legendary bowler.