Ranji Trophy should be the priority, not IPL: Bishan Singh Bedi
Former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi on why longer formats in domestic cricket are more important than the Indian Premier League
Former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi is best known for his outspoken views on Indian cricket, and the 266 wickets he took in Tests between 1966 and 1979. He was part of the famous Indian spin quartet that included Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. The four bowlers terrorized batsmen across the cricketing world, especially on the pitches in the subcontinent.
In the 1990s along with his former captain, the late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, aka Tiger Pataudi, he started the Bishan Bedi Cricket Coaching Trust that trains young children who want to play cricket at the highest level.
In an email interview with Lounge, Bedi spoke about Indian cricket and his reservations about the Indian Premier League (IPL). Edited excerpts:
What are the most positive and negative changes in Indian cricket from your time?
The positive thing is that the Indian cricket team is doing really well. The negative thing is that we don’t have any administration right now in the team. But I am concerned about the performance and they are doing really well.
Who is your favourite cricketer in the current crop of players?
Virat Kohli, because of his intensity. He gives more than 150% to the team just about every time he goes on the field, which is quite frightening because I have not seen any cricketer in India who had that much intensity. We have seen Sachin Tendulkar, (V.V.S.) Laxman, (Rahul) Dravid and others, they did their job quietly, but he (Kohli) is doing something and he is making you aware that you better watch. He is quite aggressive but he is delivering, which is more important.
Who do you think has been the best captain?
I have to talk about my time, and it has to be Tiger Pataudi. He was my first captain and I have learnt a lot from him. He was 50 years ahead of his time. He envisioned Indianness in the dressing room...it is Tiger Pataudi’s legacy that we see in the dressing room now. He also taught Indians to go for a win even if defeat is staring at you.
Is it the best time for Indian cricket?
Yes, it is. Performance, the ranking in Tests and One Day Internationals (ODIs), we are on top.
Do you think our love for cricket is restricted to T20s and ODIs?
Cricket lovers want to see the shorter version of cricket. They have seen the IPL tamasha (jamboree) every year. Personally speaking, I would like a good following for Tests.
What are your predictions for the World Cup in 2019?
I don’t want to predict. The World Cup is still far but I can say that the Indian team is prepping well. The way they are shuffling team combinations, they seem to be on the right track.
You have been a vocal critic of the IPL. What has it missed?
I am not a critic of the IPL just for the heck of it. My intention is that why shouldn’t a player playing for the country get more money than playing for a club...it is as simple as that. That is my only reservation.
Are you satisfied with the structure of domestic cricket in India?
I am not. Satisfaction brings about stagnation. There is always room for improvement, and, in the present context, the Indian first-class set-up deserves a little more administrative input to keep the boys on their toes.
Why should boys feel that the IPL is more important than the Ranji Trophy or Duleep Trophy? The Ranji Trophy should be your first priority and then Duleep Trophy, and then the other formats. They are the national tournaments, IPL is not.
How important is a left arm bowler in any playing eleven? Also, exactly how important is the role of a spinner in today’s cricket?
A left arm bowler, a pacer or a wrist spinner, they add variety to your attack. Left-arm spinners contain and attack the opposition better. The role of a spinner will always remain important and can’t be underestimated. We need 2-3 seamers, then fast bowlers and then a couple of spinners to complete the attack.
Who are the young Indian cricketers you are excited about?
Kuldeep Yadav is one for sure and I love watching under-19 captain Prithvi Shaw. He has tremendous energy.