| A file picture of Bedi and Prasanna
Calcutta: Bishan Singh Bedi has no qualms hopping across the border and sharing his expertise with the emerging spinners in Pakistan. However, when a formal invitation does come, the former India captain will suggest that the other spin twin, Erapalli Prasanna, also be invited.
“Pras is a great teacher and, believe me, the finest off-spinner… Today’s generation, therefore, should learn from Pras as well,” Bedi, an iconic left-arm spinner and the Indian team’s first coach (1990 — then designated cricket manager), told The Telegraph on Friday.
Bedi (266 Test wickets) and Prasanna (189) have worked together at the spinners’ clinics hosted by the MRF facility in Chennai. It was at one such arrangement, not many years ago, that Matthew Hayden honed his skills — in fact, that exposure altered the direction his career was taking.
Pakistan’s chief selector Wasim Bari, it may be recalled, has recommended to his Board that Bedi’s experience be utilised at a special camp for seven-eight “upcoming spinners.”
“I haven’t heard from Lahore (where the Pakistan Cricket Board is headquartered), but I don’t have a problem in sharing my art… If Wasim Akram can have a session with the Indian quicks (in Australia), there can’t be anything wrong about my interacting with Pakistani spinners,” Bedi, who was contacted on his cellphone, remarked.
Bedi, of course, acknowledged he was “pleasantly surprised” to read about Bari’s suggestion.
“Must confess I wasn’t expecting it… But, as the just-ended Revival Tour showed, cricketers are best suited to spread harmony… Bari isn’t a politician and, so, didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons before going public with his thoughts… It’s the politicians who…” Bedi, not particularly known for being diplomatic with words, added.
While he did watch every ball during the recent ODIs and Tests, sitting in Dubai as an expert for a premier channel there, Bedi didn’t talk at length about Pakistan’s spinners.
Yet, Bedi did say: “There’s no dearth of talent there, it’s only that the cricket sense is lacking… That acumen isn’t there… More than anything else, one-day cricket is responsible for the current state of affairs… The spinners (and even quicks) have forgotten how to think-out batsmen…”
Asked if he is disappointed that nobody associated with Team India has ever thought of drawing on his expertise, Bedi responded: “Oh, no… It’s their prerogative… Why must I be disappointed' From my side, it has always been good luck to the boys.”
Incidentally, it’s customary for every England side to request Bedi for tips before/during engagements in India. The maestro, by the way, has never failed to oblige — “I won’t take the art of left-arm spin with me when I die… Why not share it with those who wish to learn'”
In this age and time, it’s an exceptional sentiment.