Monday, December 12, 2011


I haven't been very regular in posting here in the recent past. However, for some strange reason, I feel compelled to write here today. It's 12th December 2011 today... and it happens to be the day when a certain Yuvraj Singh turns 30.

Yuvraj Singh has never been on my list of most-liked sportspersons, but when it comes to his abilities... there has never been any doubt! He's been a match-winner for India in limited-overs cricket for quite a few years now, and there is no taking away the fact that he was one of the chief architects of India's greatest ODI triumph of this millennium.

But why am I writing all this? After all, everyone knows about these exploits of Yuvraj Singh! It's something else. He was in news recently when his mother revealed that he had been suffering from a non-malignant lung tumor for a few months, and that he was on his way to recovery and making a comeback.

At that time, I had been thinking about his career. Over the last couple of years, there is always a murmur of IPL in every cricket discussion. Even when one talks at length about Yuvraj Singh, it is difficult to refrain from talking about the IPL and its easy money.

In recent times, I have heard a lot of people on different forums question the commitment of cricketers claiming that increased remuneration from IPL and other Twenty20 leagues directly affects their desire to represent their country. In the specific case of Yuvraj Singh, there had been questions related to form, fitness, commitment, desire, and God-knows-what-else during his lean patch in 2010.

All these opinions were aided by the reporting done by our media houses, which sadly aren't the most responsible news presenters around! They never seem to present facts... their interest is more in passing judgments!

In response to all this and more, Yuvraj Singh played out of his skin and had a fairy tale of a World Cup earlier this year. There is one incident during the finals of the World Cup between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai that I clearly remember.

It was the first ball of the 10th over of the first innings... TM Dilshan was facing Munaf Patel. Dilshan unleashed a fierce cut that was headed between point and cover, certain to reach the ropes. However, Yuvraj Singh leaped across to his wrong side and cut it off... saving four runs for his team! This was just one of the many brilliant fielding efforts by him in that big match. Here's what the Cricinfo commentary description of that delivery reads:

"9.1 Patel to Dilshan, no run, 132.8 kph, The flying Singh again, Yuvraj leaps full length to his right at point and cuts off a Dilshan cut, which was hit hard into the ground and heading towards the boundary"

In that match, through the Powerplay overs, he fielded at point... a position that he has hardly fielded in during the last 4 years of his international career. He was diving around, and putting his body on the line, for a match that could be considered as the most important one of his career.

After that World Cup was won, Yuvraj Singh captained Pune's IPL side for a month and a half. But I don't remember seeing him at point in Pune's black-and-silver. He was back to fielding at mid-on and mid-off... and there weren't too many dives forthcoming.

In hindsight, it's easy to recognise where his actual priorities lay. He was ready to put his fragile and suffering body on the line for the glory of a World Cup win, but not for the millions of dollars of the IPL. And sitting comfortably at home, the armchair critics went on and on.

I too had been amongst those who had passed a few judgments about Yuvraj Singh during his troughs. Though I had stated in 2010 that Yuvraj Singh's good form is very important for India if the World Cup has to be won, but I had also been doubtful about whether he was still capable of putting in those kind of performances that had made him an indispensable part of India's ODI team. Those four months from February to May taught me a lesson! Yuvraj Singh's performances taught me a lesson about how woefully wrong our judgments sometimes tend to be.


Govind Raj said...

Super post Shridhar. I too have believed Yuvi is the ONLY Indian who is a different player in India colors than in IPL.

Golandaaz said...

Firstly let me say that I am not commenting on Yuvi's commitment only on the inferences of this post; which are

People who are diagnosed with a non-malignant tumor and who dive around in the most prestigious event in cricket are above criticism from the media as far as their commitment is concerned.

I have been extremely critical of Sachin and everyone who played the IPL and took time off from Test cricket and showed up in England half cooked. That cricketers; even the greatest ones; have put IPL before country is painfully clear and yet we as fans don't want to admit that

Finally now on Yuvraj too did not go to the WI and played the IPL. I believe people have every right to question his commitment to country.

Giving your all in the World Cup finals is a basic requirement not something which needs to be applauded. Any Paplu / Taplu from the street corner would have given his all in a World Cup finals if selected

Unknown said...

Thank you, Govind!

Gol, I cannot criticise those cricketers who played the IPL after the World Cup, leaving them no time to rest and recuperate for international cricket thereafter, but the reasons for that are very different, and I'll discuss them in another post.

"Giving your all in a World Cup finals is a basic requirement" - True! But it is so much easier said than done! The greatest off-spinner of our time Muttiah Muralitharan could not manage it in the same match.

He was hampered by an injury, but then so were many other players who played that match riddled by some injury / niggle or the other. Yuvraj himself vomited his way to the Finals, didn't he?

His decision to not tour the Windies was injury-based, if I recall correctly. And even though he knew that playing the IPL might worsen his health, he had no way of knowing that it would virtually rule him out of the rest of 2011. So I don't think that the decision to play the IPL should raise a question of Yuvraj's commitment to the country.

Golandaaz said...

you are confusing performance with comittment. Murali's comittment is no less significant that Yuvraj's. That he ended up on the losing side and did not have a good match is not the point of your post. So lets not bring that into the conversation.

Also, I am curious about your statement that for the IPL games Yuvraj did not field the way he did for India...and that somehow is a good thing...Why? He is getting paid to give his best whether it is for India or the IPL. Why should anyone hold anything back when they are playing for a franchise. What sort of comittment is that?

I think you are confusing a very unfortunate ailment with Yuvraj and somehow feeling obliged that you should speak glorious things about him.

To me the players (all of them including SRT) are having it both ways and it suits them to play the "we are victims of the scheduling" game. They don't have any more comittment to INDIA than they have for the filmstars and businessmen who shower dollars on them.

They say all the right things and then do all the things that suit their financial needs. There is absolutely nothing wrong in SRT chosing IPL over WI, or Sehwag playing the IPL instead of getting rest and operating his shoulder injury. Everyone is entitled to earn as much money as they wish...but please when they talk crap like "Test cricket is the real deal and country comes first..." that's utter crap

If you say that, then I expect Sachin to skip the IPL and play in the WI, I expect Yuvraj and Sehwag and Zaheer to not play in the IPL after a strenous WC when they know there isn't enough time to recuperate in time for WI / Eng

Sorry, but after England I don't trust the Indian team. Not Sachin, not anyone. They are all pawns and inspite of their standing and the voice they have they will continue to play victims....

Unknown said...

Gol, firstly I want to clarify that this post is not a result of sympathy arising due to Yuvraj Singh's unfortunate ailment. I had discussed the content matter of this post with a number of my friends and colleagues even before the news of that ailment had broken out.

I think our discussion is starting to digress a little. The aim of this post was to bring out my opinion that we are far too judgmental, both in terms of frequency and speed! Yuvraj Singh was but an example on which my opinion was based.

You say that you do not trust the Indian team after the England debacle. I think that's quite clear from the opinions that you have stated thus far, and I don't blame you for it... even I do wonder sometimes why I still trust them so much!

Yes, players talk about Tests being the real deal and then bunk Test matches - that's true! They play the IPL and skip the tour to West Indies. But then, in the age of today's media, they can hardly say that 'competitive' Tests are the real deal, and that they are ready to skip a not-so-important Windies tour to earn a few bucks in the IPL.

Say as much as you like about the fight shown by the West Indies, no one can deny that India could and should have won all 6 Tests this year against them. One was drawn due to weather, one due to lack of enterprise, and one due to... err, poor running between the wickets!

Had the IPL been followed immediately by the English tour, I doubt the players would have played through that entire tournament if their fitness was at stake. The West Indies tour afforded them a window for rest, and they decided to use it.

I agree it is kind of hypocrisy to still call Test cricket the real deal, but then like I said, they cannot afford to say that West Indies Tests are nowhere near the real deal!

What my post argues against is us jumping to conclusions that these players lack the commitment to play for India because they chose to play IPL, skip Windies, and then went and underperformed in England. My arguments are against our judgmentalism (I'm not sure that's a dictionary word)... and not to decide whether it's right or wrong to play the IPL and skip the Windies tour!

Golandaaz said...

ok...may be i got the context all wrong :-)

Unknown said...

Loved the post Shridhar....:-)

Unknown said...

Thank you, Deekay!

india vs australia 2012 live streaming said...

cant forget the moment i jumped on my seat when he hit 6 sixes on the trot.. yuvraj singh rocks when he pulls one for a six!

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