First, it was the turn of a modern-day legend to slay an old one.
Offspinner Muttaiah Muralitharan, who has endured a lifetime of taunts over his bowling action, hit back at his chief tormentor in India, left arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi, calling him “an ordinary bowler”, rating the other members of the famous spin quartet—B.S. Chandrashekhar, E.A.S. Prasanna and S. Venkataraghavan—above him.
“He (Bedi) did not have any variation. He just bowled left-arm spin and the pitch did the variation for him. That is what he bowled. I saw some (of his) bowling of his playing days. He would have been hammered every ball had he played in the modern era,” Muralitharan said, a week after his retirement.
Now, it is the turn of a legend of the past to slay a current one.
Sir Gary Sobers has said Australian leg spinner Shane Warne was overrated and that Subhash Gupte was a much better leggie than the Sheikh of Tweak.
“Someone who is called great from today’s game is Shane Warne, but I have got my reservations about Shane. I think he is a great bowler, but I’m not sure how well he compares with spinners overall. I think people get carried away with this man’s ability as he hardly ever bowled a good googly.
“To me, Shane Warne is a great turner of the ball. I like his aggressive attitude, I love the way he attacks batsmen and I give him 100% for that as not enough spinners bowl with that approach, but in my estimation Subhash Gupte was a better legspinner,” Sobers says in his new book.
Comparions may be odious, but is old necessarily gold? Or, are modern-day spinners better than spinners of the past?
Are the accomplishments of older spinners any less remarkable than that of newer ones although they mostly bowled on uncovered pitches? Or, are modern spinners better because they are able to bowl in all forms of the game with equal success, against booming bats, and with field restrictions designed to help batsmen?
Or, was Gandhiji the best spinner of all, better than Bedi and Warne and Murali? (Just kidding.)