Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement from international cricket, leaving his fans with some memorable records. The lefthanded cricketer closed with an outstanding average of 36.55 and 111 wickets in One Day Internationals and 1177 runs along with 28 wickets in T20s.
Known for his hitting of the ball and his fielding, Yuvi was born on the 12th of December, 1981. Born in Chandigarh, he started playing with the Punjab Cricket team in 1996 and has built innumerable memories at the crease since.
Son of former Indian fast bowler and Punjabi actor Yograj Singh, the ‘Sixer King’ was trained by his own father. But the journey was all things opposite to a cake walk with a strict, visionary father. Yograj Singh Bhandal like most fathers wanted his son to walk his path and cross milestones more than he ever did. Singh had a brief international career as a former cricketer who got to play a Test and six ODIs for the nation as a right-arm, fast-medium bowler. His career ended due to an injury and he chose to enter the Punjabi Cinema or the Punjabi Film industry.
On a telephonic conversation, Singh told PTI “I am very grateful for a son like him. I thank my son and I always tell him (Yuvraj) that I am proud of him, ”
“….if you (Yuvraj) think I have been very harsh to you, I wanted to prove a point to the people and I hope you understand,” added the 61-year-old.
It was Yuvi’s father’s choice for his son to take up cricket. Singh was confident his son could be trained to become a champion and thus personally trained him and made sure he was in the field from a very young age, working as hard as other boys, years older than he was.
The father-son relationship was clearly far from perfect and Yuvi chooses to call him a “dragon” as a father more importantly – trainer.
However, Yuvraj’s relationship with his mother was a contrast from that with his father. “When one parent is strict, the other has to be lenient with the kid.” shared Shabnam Singh, Yuvi’s mother, with the Quint. “I always allowed him, in fact, encouraged him to choose whatever he wanted to. Even if he was to opt out from cricket. “
Young Yuvraj did actually didn’t at all have cricket as his first choice. A skater from the Skating Rink, Chandigarh, he’d even brought home gold but was met with utter disappointment when his father threw away his gear as well as the medal. As devasted as he was, Yuvraj could never dare to stand at the rink ever again, fearing getting beaten up by his father. Even about the thought of retiring, 37-year-old Yuvraj Singh’s concern was to be able to end only after giving his father a high point or a satisfying closer.
“I actually made peace with it a couple of days ago when I was talking about it to my father. I spoke to him, demons inside as young kid came out and that conversation happened with him and he came with his side of the story. And it was a very peaceful moment for me to have that closure and have that chat with him because I had never had that chat with him in the last 20 years,” Yuvraj said.
“He’s always been like a dragon to me and just facing the dragon was a very difficult task for me,” he added after announcing his retirement.
While Yuvi describes his father’s heavy training as ‘quality jail’, and his father justifies saying he was in the process of creating a champion. Every time Yuvi took over the field, he would fear to disappoint his father, however, his mother had completely different fears. Yuvraj’s mother’s superstition kept her away from her son’s sports. She feared her presence in the stance would mean lower scores.
A champion on and off the field, Yuvraj Singh has hit sixes even outside the field. His first injury was a fractured finger which was a speed breaker for his career and next was a knee injury in 2006. The knee injury might only have brought his career on a halt, but what made everyone doubt the champion’s return to the field was the diagnosis of a cancerous tumor after the landmark victory of T20 World Cup in 2011.
In 2011 the 30-year-old was diagnosed with a non–malignant tumor of the lungs and further tests had even revealed cancer and he had to undergo chemotherapy. Doctors announced his condition as critical yet curable since the cancerous tumor was diagnosed timely and the rest, as they say, is history.
Creating his own journey, Yuvraj literally wrote his reality, leaving the world astounded. He recounts the consistent support of his parents and younger brother – Zoravar Singh, as well as his Guru – Sant Baba Ram Singh Ji and close friends. Says it is because of all of them that he was able to rebuild himself and bounce back as much better of a champion. Even former India batsman Chandu Borde, a selector when the batting all-rounder was picked in the national side, dubbed Yuvraj as “a courageous person who is an inspiration to others”. He shared that Yuvraj deserves the accreditation because of the way he kept himself fit despite the physical problems.
The former cricketer’s battle with cancer soon after the triumph was surely his biggest challenge yet. However, he chooses to look forward to the time ahead with his wife- Hazel Keech and family and from 2011 he only recalls the high point of winning the T20 for the country and also the ‘Man of the Match’ title.
Yuvraj’s work in the field offered some mind-boggling numbers to the fans with him being one of the nine players with the double of 8,000-plus runs and 1,00-plus wickets in ODIs. He scored 8701 runs at an average of 36.55 and a strike rate of 87.67 and took 111 wickets at an average of 38.68. He was also one of the six Indian batsmen with an average of 50-plus in ODI World Cups. His average in ODI World Cups was 52.71. He is one of the seven players with the double of 500 runs and 20 wickets in ICC ODI World Cups. He scored 738 runs and took 20 wickets in ICC ODI World Cups.
Yuvraj was one of the 20 batsmen in ODIs with 6,000-plus runs in winning causes. He scored 6,008 runs at an average of 50.06 and a strike rate of 93.72 in winning causes in ODIs. His SR of 93.72 was the sixth highest among all the batsmen who scored at least 6,000 runs in winning causes in ODIs.
In his 19years spent at the crease, Yuvraj picks Muttiah Murlitharan, Sri Lankan cricket player and Glenn McGrawth, Australian cricketer as his top picks. And, his toughest to play with were Ricky Ponting, Australian cricketer and Chris Gayle playing for West Indies.
Retiring from international cricket, Yuvraj might be exiting the crease, but he will continue to uphold his position as a true champion in the hearts of his fans.
(Article contributed by Ojasvini Sondhi)