Bishan Singh Bedi has never believed in pulling punches. Even as an active cricketer, he wasn’t shy of taking on the establishment if he believed the cause was just. That trait hasn’t deserted him in retirement, be it his sustained condemnation of Muttiah Muralitharan’s action despite the off-spinner getting the all-clear from the International Cricket Council or his snipes at the ultra-popular Indian Premier League.
It, therefore, came as no surprise when the former India captain reacted with characteristic outrage to the proposed installation of Arun Jaitley’s statue at the Feroze Shah Kotla in the national capital, now named after the late former union minister who also served as the president of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association.
In a strongly worded missive to the DDCA, now headed by Jaitley’s son Rohan, Bedi asked that his name be removed from the spectators’ stand named after him in 2017, and renounced his membership of the association. Making it clear that he had had serious misgivings over the senior Jaitley’s style of functioning when he helmed the DDCA, he also wrote, “Sporting arenas need sporting role models. The place of the administrators is in their glass cabins.”
The evolution of sport in general, and cricket specifically in India, from an amateur concept to a competitive, professional entity has thrown up as many positives as it has bones of contention. There was nary a murmur when the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, commissioned in the early 1970s, or the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, which hosted its first Test in the middle of that same decade, were named after the men responsible for the construction of those facilities.
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