How Bishan Singh Bedi helped Monty Panesar, Shane Warne shine against India
The master spinner was generous with a word of advice even for the opposition bowlers
What a large-hearted soul was Bishan Singh Bedi's! Several examples of his generosity and grace have become a part of cricketing folklore.
Some of the most remarkable ones are the way leading spinners from rival countries have often picked his brains — and benefitted, much to the consternation of the Indian camp!
A key beneficiary of his largesse was Monty Panesar, the Sikh left-arm spinner from England, who did enough damage against India on the regular.
It was during his visit to India in 2000–01 as part of the Under-19 England squad that the Sardar of Spin had taken him under his wing as a mentor. The following year, Bedi brought a team of young cricketers on a tour of England. It was Panesar's turn now to host them at dinner.
Since then, Bedi had been 'family' to the former England spinner, who went on to emulate Bedi himself, becoming the first English bowler to take six wickets in the first innings of a Test match at Lord’s (against the West Indies) in 2007.
‘’He (Monty) knows his craft,’’ Bedi had once said, and often had priceless inputs for him.
Back in 2013, when an inebriated Panesar was fined for urinating on a nightclub’s bouncers, a somewhat indulgent Bedi tweeted (edited for readability): ‘’Very naughty MontyP! Never thought you would be so originally adventuresome. I’d pardon your first attempt at rediscovering yourself, Monty. Now behave, son!’’
In another incident, Bedi confided in an interview how he once advised Shane Warne once on how to dismiss the mighty Sachin Tendulkar.
In a popular chat show Breakfast with Champions with Gaurav Kapur, Bedi said he had advised the Australian that he should keep a short leg, gully and slip while bowling to Tendulkar. The advice apparently surprised Warne, who said: "You're joking!"
Bedi said that cricket was a mind game, and the fielders were to be placed there to put pressure on Little Master and not necessarily to catch him out:
Those fielders are not there to catch, they are there to put pressure on Sachin (Tendulkar)... You don’t field for bad bowling. You apply fielding to bowl well.Bishan Singh Bedi to Shane Warne, of Sachin Tendulkar
Bedi added: ‘’And if possible, keep a silly mid-off too. Maybe it was on (Warne's) mind. He tried this and he got (Tedulkar) caught in the street. Warne then waved his hat in the air.”
It seemed that Bedi believed in the brotherhood of spinners, irrespective of the country they hailed from.
Long before this encounter with Australia, during a India–Pakistan test series in 1986–87, the visitors won a low-scoring game by 16 runs on a rank turner of a wicket in Bengaluru (then Bangalore). Iqbal Qasim, a practitioner of Bedi’s trade who created havoc along with Tauseef Iqbal in that game, later revealed a key piece of advice from Bedi had helped him immensely:
‘’On a turner, the most dangerous ball is the one which goes through.’’Bishan Singh Bedi's advice to Pakistani bowler Iqbal Qasim
It’s not difficult to guess that the Indian camp was not amused by such generosity, but that’s Bishan Singh Bedi for you — a character who would not hesitate to take a wannabe spinner under his fold, but equally would not hesitate to call the feted Muttiah Muralitharan a ‘chucker’ and a ‘javelin thrower’ if he saw it that way!