Bedi, Viswanath yet to get BCCI invite for 500th Test

The omission of these greats is particularly ironical when, among those invited, is Mohammad Azharuddin, whose career ended following a Board-imposed life-ban for match-fixing in December 2000.

Gundappa Viswanath (right) captained India in two Tests.   -  Vivek Bendre

It is a landmark occasion for the BCCI. It is also a nice gesture to invite all the Test captains to Kanpur to witness the country’s 500th Test, beginning on Thursday against New Zealand.

However, call it intentional or a shocking error of omission, the guest list does not include Ajit Wadekar, Bishan Singh Bedi and G. R. Viswanath — all integral part of India’s Test history.

Wadekar was the man who led India to back-to-back historic overseas triumphs over West Indies and England in 1971. Under left-arm spin legend Bedi’s captaincy, India recorded one of its most memorable victories, over West Indies at Port of Spain in 1976, scoring 406 for four in the fourth innings.

Batting maestro Viswanath holds a unique record as India has remained unbeaten in all 14 Tests, including his debut against Australia in 1969, in which he scored a century.

The omission of these greats is particularly ironical when, among those invited, is Mohammad Azharuddin, whose career ended following a Board-imposed life-ban for match-fixing in December 2000.

“I can go (to Kanpur) only if I’m invited,” was how Wadekar reacted when enquired by The Hindu about his plans. “I have not been invited.” He dismissed rumours of ill-health, saying, “I am hale and hearty.”

Wadekar has not only been a former captain, he has also been a former selector and a coach when India won seven home Tests on the trot against England, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in 1993-1994.

Viswanath was his dignified self even after being ignored for the occasion. “I don’t know if there is a criterion. I have not received an invitation or a phone call from the BCCI. I know that I have captained India only in two Tests. I’m not sure if I they (Board) have invited only a few captains, or all of them.”