London: “Sir zindagi bach gayi humari, who sabse badi baat hain (I am alive and that is the biggest thing for me),” Yuvraj Singh smirked when asked if he has any regrets on the eve of his landmark 300th ODI appearance.
It was a roundabout way of asking about his not so great Test record, but a veteran of more than ‘300 press conferences’ would have known what was coming his way. He would have nothing of that sort, especially when he has hit cancer for a ‘six’.
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Ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against Bangladesh, Yuvraj wanted to be in a zone which is miles away from any kind of negativity. “I don’t want to talk about my regrets when I am in a good zone. I am playing well and would continue for a few more years. As long as I am performing, I would like to play,” Yuvraj said, making it clear that the 2019 World Cup is still in his mind.
The elegant left-hander would tell you that getting that India jersey may not be very difficult, but wearing it for 17 years, demands determination of a different level along with copious amount of self belief. “It’s not difficult to play for India but sustaining is tough. You need to have determination and self belief is important.
“When things are not going well, people will have a lot of opinions and you need to believe in yourself it’s a matter of time you can do it again,” said one of India’s greatest match winners.
He was in a jovial mood and when asked what are the do’s and don’ts of those aspiring to play for India, he replied: “Among the do’s it is important to stick to the process and train as hard as possible. Among the don’ts will be to stay away from media.”
Asked about the milestone, he agreed that it is indeed a big one for him. “I don’t know whether I am a role model but it’s been a big achievement for me to get to 300 games. It’s a huge honour. When I started playing, I was happy playing just one game for India. That would have been a big achievement for me but here I am now.
“I have seen ups and downs. I am proud of myself that I have come through and still managed to get through to 300 games. At one stage, I was thinking whether or not I will play again, but here I am.”
One could feel a sense of achievement in his response as he spoke. For Yuvraj, his biggest attribute according to him, is the “never giving it up” attitude. “I think my biggest quality has been never to give up, pushing no matter what obstacles came in my life. I always advise younger guys to never back down and always keep on working with same intensity, irrespective of whether you are having a good time or bad time.
“Be persistent, be consistent and focus on the process of the game,” he said. Yuvraj praised today’s younger generation for having much more knowledge, as they come up the ranks.
“Well, there has been a big transformation. We learnt from our seniors and now we try to pass on the knowledge to younger guys. The game has evolved, fitness levels have evolved, it has become faster.
“Guys who are coming into the team are much fitter with better knowledge of eating habits, they are learning quickly. They are getting exposed to IPL playing with international cricketers. Game has evolved big time.”
Asked to pick three memorable matches in his ODI career, Yuvraj rated the 2011 World Cup quarter-final against Australia (57 and 2/44) as his best, followed by the 84 in his very second ODI against Australia in Nairobi in 2000.
Someone reminded him about the Natwest Trophy final and he nodded in agreement, “Yes, Natwest final was memorable.” For all ageing cricketers, Yuvraj has an advice – as one grows older, one needs to push harder.
“I have been playing domestic cricket for last three years. I didn’t miss any domestic game except for my marriage. That was the reason I could spend a lot of time at the ground. I was batting well and I fielded (in some matches) for two days. As you get older you need to push harder, that’s the reason I could make a comeback.”