Indian spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi stressed integrity in the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture here on Saturday.
The former India captain and left-arm spinner revealed, “When I once asked Sir Donald Bradman if he could tell me in one word what he would like to be remembered for most, he answered ‘Integrity.’ He had this quality both as a cricketer and a cricket administrator.”
The 66-year-old Bedi, who claimed 266 wickets at 28.71 from 67 Tests, said, “today you see too many areas of conflict of interests among both administrators and players.”
Bedi added, “a player should be a good student of the game. And an administrator should be a good servant of the game. Cricket, the game, is the only boss. You cannot boss over the boss.”
Talking about the glitz and glamour of franchise based cricket, Bedi said, “cricket in itself is entertainment. You do not need induced entertainment in the game. In fact, cricket was invented in England to enable people overcome a period of depression.”
Dwelling on match and spot fixing, he noted, “we don’t know how it takes place but we know it happens. I think the people from my tribe, the players, are as responsible for it as the bookies.”
Bedi observed, “the cricketers should own up responsibility for several things harming the game. Take ball tampering for instance.”
He came down heavily on ICC for being ‘soft’ on the issue of ‘chucking’. “It is trying to gag the umpires and the players. You do not need rocket science to see whether somebody is bowling with an illegal action or not.”
The former spin ace said, “this is an area where we can do something but we don’t because everyone is turning a blind eye to it. There are so many chuckers who are getting away scot-free in all forms of the game. How can the doosra be a legal delivery? The umpires are not empowered.”
There was a lack of transparency in the present scenario, he felt. “The Sports Ministry wants the BCCI to come under the RTI. But when there is a move to bring the political parties under the RTI, they oppose it together. You cannot have the cake and eat it too. This is where the rot begins.”
The IPL, he said, was taking young cricketers to the ‘saturation point’ too quickly. “There is so much money in it that they lose the fire in their belly to play for the country. The hunger is not there.”
Bedi was critical of over-the-top celebrations in the modern era. “They are just doing what they are supposed to do. The game remains the same, the length of the pitch, the weight of the ball…but so many aspects around the game have changed.”
Later, answering questions, Bedi was unhappy with batsmen who refused to ‘walk’ after an obvious dismissal. “This game is about honesty and uprightness. I have seen Tiger Pataudi once ‘walking’ in England when he thought he was out leg-before. If a batsman has edged it, he should ‘walk’.”
Bedi believed DRS reduced the damage from umpiring errors and was baffled why the BCCI opposed it. “I think it helps the umpires,” he said.
S. Mahalingam, managing trustee, Palkhivala Foundation, welcomed Mr. Bedi and gave an overview of the activities of the Foundation. R. Anand, trustee, introduced the speaker and highlighted his achievements. V. Ranganathan, trustee, proposed a vote of thanks.