Spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi has decided to come out of retirement, flex his muscles and lead a team of former cricketers to his birthplace, Amritsar, to play on a different kind of turf. At 68, his reflexes may have weakened, but he knows which delivery is needed to bowl out his opponent.
But the wily spinner's opponent this time, for a change, is not a cricketer but a cricket administrator who, according to him, has been instrumental in ruining the gentleman's game "single-handedly" in his 13-year regime at the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA).
Bharatiya Janata Party's Lok Sabha contestant from Amritsar Arun Jaitley, 61, has led his party's campaign as its ace strategist for many elections in the past. This is the first time that Jaitley has been asked to contest the Lok Sabha election from the famous Golden Temple town by replacing another former India opening batsman and two-time Member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Bedi is leading a team of former players — Surinder Khanna, Akash Lal and a few more Delhi-based cricketers — to his hometown, and Jaitley's adopted constituency to educate the youngsters of this "Holy City" to play the game with a straight bat. All the cricketers, though, have decided to go back to their roots on the invitation of former Punjab chief minister and Jaitley's opponent in the battle, Amarinder Singh.
"I've always played the game in a fair manner during my career. When I became coach and administrator, I passed on the same culture to the next generation of players. That's why I've come to my birthplace to exhort youngsters that they should only elect a candidate who has a clean administrators' image and has not ruled with manipulation alone," said Bedi, who will take a flight to Amritsar on Friday morning.
dna has learnt that Bedi and his team is likely to hold meetings at different colleges and senior schools to make the young voters aware of Jaitley's failure as an administrator. "Look at the time from when Mr Jaitley has been at the helm of affairs in cricket. The game has suffered because of lack of control and leadership. There were so many scandals and controversies, and he tried to save the culprits every time.
Under his leadership, cricket in Delhi has gone to the dogs," said former India opener Surinder Khanna.
The cricketers are also annoyed with Jaitley over his promise to form the Cricket Improvement Committee after India versus Sri Lanka one-dayer was to be called off on December 27, 2009 at Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla ground. "He has never done anything for the game or for the players apart from playing games and siding with those who have now captured the Delhi campus. After India-Sri Lanka game, he announced the formation of CIC under our legendary skipper Bediji and then backtracked as he has always done in the past. Delhi cricket has suffered and so has Indian cricket under his administration," added Khanna, whose maternal home is in Amritsar.