Farewell, yu(vi) legend

From hating cricket as kid to mastering it, from winning battles on field to fighting cancer off it, Yuvraj Singh’s journey has been heroic, writes G Krishnan

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Farewell, yu(vi) legend
Yuvraj Singh while announcing his retirement from international cricket in Mumbai on Monday


The burden is off Yuvraj Singh's shoulders.

Contemplating retirement from cricket for quite some time and having discussed it with his mother Shabnam Singh and wife Hazel, Yuvraj decided that the IPL 2019 was going to be his last tournament after which he would call it a day.

One of India's greatest icons not just on the cricket field but off it too, Yuvraj announced his retirement on Monday from all forms of international cricket and any other cricket to do under the Board of Control for Cricket in India banner including the IPL.
Yuvraj may have won many a battle for India on the field but he conquered the mother of them all – cancer, which struck him around the 2011 World Cup triumph.

The manner in which he bravely overcame it to make a comeback and play some pivotal roles in India's victories in both Tests and ODIs – not quite the Yuvraj of old, though – is stuff of heroes.
"After 25 years in and around the 22 yards and almost 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on," Yuvraj read out from a prepared statement after a short film in front of his mother, wife and close friends while his father Yograj Singh stayed away.

This paves the way for Yuvraj to make himself available for the T20 leagues outside India.
"I want to play world leagues. At this age, I can manage to play some fun cricket. I want to enjoy my life. It has been too stressful just thinking about international career, performing in big tournaments like the IPL. With BCCI permission, I would love to go and play this year and next year, have fun and play what's left in me.

"It has been a very long and hard journey, and I think I deserve that," said Yuvraj while addressing the media after the announcement.
The 37-year-old stylish left-handed batsman – who was a dominant limited-overs batsman from 2000 to 2011 and thereafter had a chequered career until playing his last international match for India in June 2017 – made the announcement to move on in life through a 15-minute film.

(Clockwise from extreme left: Yuvraj Singh arrives in New Delhi on April 9, 2012 after undergoing three cycles of chemotherapy in the US; Yuvraj with the 2011 World Cup; Yuvi after hitting the winning runs in 2011 WC quarterfinal against Australia)

'Dragon' father

The film was a unique way of bidding goodbye from the sport that has earned him 402 international caps across all the three formats – 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is.
The film was Yuvraj's story told by the cricketer himself and recalled his tough childhood days through a conversation with his father, Yograj Singh, in Chandigarh and also his mother Shabnam, whom he has always called "as the pillar of my strength and I feel has given me birth twice".

It is well documented about the kind of harsh treatment meted out to Yuvraj in his growing up years by his dad. There was this love-hate relationship between the father and son in Yuvraj's growing up years that later transformed into a love-hate relationship with cricket.
Until a few days ago, that is, when he had a heart-to-heart conversation with his father.

"I was a different father," Yograj said in the film. "I saw Garfield Sobers and Viv Richards in Yuvraj."
Yograj, who played one Test for India in the late 1970s, fulfilled his dream of achieving big in cricket through his son Yuvraj.

"My dad was very harsh. To be the best, as a 10-year-old, I had to train with 16-year-olds," Yuvraj recalled in the film. "I had no choice as he wanted me to play only cricket."
Yuvraj also recalled the day when he won a skating medal but his father threw it away because he wanted his son to play cricket.

Amidst the strict life that Yuvraj was leading under his father was the loving and understanding mom Shabnam, who stood like a pillar through the cricketer's thick and thin. "If one parent is strict, the other parent has to be lenient," she said.
While one may make out from the film that Yuvraj was full of hatred growing up, he said the bunny is off him.

"A couple of days ago, I was talking about this (retirement) to my father. The conversation that happened with him was a very peaceful moment. I never had that kind of a chat with him in 20 years. He was always a dragon for me.
"I had very difficult time. He never appreciated me playing any other sport. He appreciated me playing cricket. I said so be it. I started enjoying it later in the career and made good use of it," Yuvraj said.

(Shabnam Singh gets emotional as her son Yuvraj announces retirement-PTI)

Match-winner like none

While Yuvraj made peace with the sport, the father and son have also now made peace with themselves, as was seen towards the end of the film where the two hug each other in the middle of a local cricket field and shed tears.
If not for the strict upbringing where he was not allowed to meet his friends, cousins and only be eating, drinking and sleeping cricket the way his father wanted, the world would not have been entertained by a thorough stylish southpaw who attacked the best of bowlers right from his international debut in Nairobi in 2000.

Nor would the world have seen his magnificent, confidence-boosting partnership with Mohammed Kaif in the Natwest Trophy final in England in 2002 that gave India one of their best ODI triumphs, nor the magnificent six sixes in an over in the World T20 in South Africa in 2007, nor the mother of all his major achievements, being the player of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup and helping India lift the title after a 28-year gap.
"The biggest moment of my career has to be winning the 2011 World Cup and being man of the series. There cannot be a bigger high," Yuvraj said.

Now, having given the joy to the world through his dazzling strokeplay and brilliance in the field, Yuvraj will pursue a career that is more fun while also being responsible in spreading cancer awareness through his foundation YouWeCan.

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