Sports has always amazed me. It tells you so many stories. Stories of heroics that inspire you to become better individuals. Yuvraj Singhs story is one such epic.
From being a skating champion to becoming a cricketer, from being the player of the tournament in the World Cup 2011 to fighting with a malignant tumour, Yuvraj Singh has seen it all. And in the process has inspired us all. He gives you that typical Punjabi brat sort of image at first, with a penchant for flirting with girls, partying, but Yuvraj Singh has more to him. Much more.
My friend recently gave me Yuvraj’s autobiography to read. The book tells you all about the man.
His journey as a cricketer was forced. Never did he ever dream of playing for India. But his father had dreamt of it and that was that. His future was decided.
When one day he came home with a gold medal that he had won in a skating competition, his father raged and threw the medal out saying, ‘Skating is for girls, stop doing it’. And his fate was sealed. He was going to be a cricketer, his father(Yograj Singh) made sure of that.
Throughout the book he lists various instances of his father’s inhuman behavior towards him. Yograj Singh was a cricketer himself but he couldn’t make it big for India. A tall, well built bowling all rounder, he was second best to Kapil Dev and as there was room for only one all rounder in the team, he just couldn’t cement his place. Yuvraj believes this is why his father so dearly wanted him to play for India. He wanted his son to fulfil the dream that he had cultivated a long time ago. But his methods were a bit extreme.
And so Yuvraj’s journey cricketing journey started. He wasn’t allowed to play tennis or skate. His father uprooted the beautiful garden in their house and replaced it with a cement pitch. Wet tennis balls were darted at him in order to do away with any kind of fear of fast bowling. This is where Yuvraj first honed his skills. He gradually learnt to deal with his fathers anger. Today both of them are more like friends. Yuvraj believes it was only because of his father that he could make it to the Indian side.
While Yuvraj was set to make his mark on the gentlemen’s game, everything was not sound at the Singh house. Things were getting ugly between his parents and in those tough times Cricket acted as an escape route for Yuvraj. The thing that he hated most in the beginning became his most prized possession in the end.
The start to his international career was pretty exhilarating, an U-19 world cup victory in Sri Lanka, any youngster would settle for that. A call up for the senior side was a given, and boy how well did he respond. A flamboyant Yuvraj Singh had taken the attack to the Australians in Nairobi(Champions League 2000). 84 was what he got and with that he had announced his arrival on the international scene.
He was in and out of team for the next year or so. But then came the famous Natwest final of 2003. We had all shut our tvs at 146/5 when Sachin was bowled by Ashley Giles. Little did we know that two young guns of India were going to script the most romantic of moments that the game had ever seen. A victory chasing 326 on foreign soil, yes the new generation of cricketers had arrived. A generation that feared none.
Yuvraj soon turned into the Michael Bevan that we all desired.
Then came the 2007 T 20 World cup and after the disaster in the Carribean, we expected very little from the young Indian outfit in South Africa. But they surprised us all.
A fiery Freddie Flintoff tried to rattle Yuvraj in Durban and Stuart Broad had to deal with its consequences. Yuvraj smacked Broad for 6 sixes and achieved immortality. The tales of this day will be retold by fans for generations to come. He bolistered the Aussies in the semi final and won us the T 20 world cup almost single handedly.
Here is the video of that unforgettable night in Durban.
Yuvraj had become the youth icon, every player wanted to have a back lift like him, every player wanted to smash the bowler for 6 sixes, every player wanted to be Yuvraj.
There was still room for improvement though, Yuvraj wanted to excel and conquer the test arena as well. But that did not happen. He has scored 3 hundreds but has never looked at ease while playing in white for India. The demons are all in your head, if you can do it wearing blue, you can do it wearing white as well.
Up and until the 2011 World cup, Yuvraj had experienced everything that life could offer. He had seen fame, failure, victory, defeat, everything. Little did he know that the World Cup was going to take him places that he would never even have dreamt of.
He batted, bowled, fielded, roared and won us the trophy that had eluded us for 28 years. The image of him sitting down and shouting out loud after hitting the winning runs against Australia is egged in our memories forever. That was Yuvraj on the outside for us(during the World Cup). None of us knew the turmoil that he was going through on a personal level.
Winning the World Cup was a dream come true for every Indian. We had waited long enough. The players fought it out in the middle to ensure that the cup came home this time. Yuvraj, however, had to do his fighting off the pitch as well.
His breath started to desert him and with it his sleep. He started spitting blood during the World Cup but never really paid attention to it. For him the World Cup was the thing of utmost importance at that time and he felt that all these health issues were either due to the weather or the stress that the World Cup brought with it.
In the months after the World Cup too Yuvraj didn’t pay much attention to his health, putting off his medical check up. When he finally did go for one, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his chest cavity. The man had hit rock bottom. From being the hero of the World Cup to being a cancer patient, Yuvraj would never have expected his life to take such a drastic turn.
He was a cancer patient. He had no option but to accept it and move on. And move on, he did. His mother(Shabnam Singh) and a few of his childhood friends were with him during the chemo cycles in Indianapolis. Those were the toughest days of his life. There were times when he couldn’t even walk. He was saddened by the grief and sorrow his family and friends had to go through because of him.
Cancer can happen to anyone. You just have to accept the fact that you have been infected by it and start your treatment as soon as possible. Cancer patients are often reluctant to accepting their state. It is the darkness of the word that frightens them and the insecurities that it brings with it. You may or may not survive but to give yourself a chance to a live you need to accept the fact that you are a cancer patient. Only then can there be any hope of you surviving.
After months of tests and speculations, Yuvraj went public about his disease. He wanted to end the taboos that surrounded the disease. He wanted to give something back to the cancer hit patients. His organistaion YouWeCan helps to generate awareness and facilitate early detection of cancer.
His entire life revolved around cricket but after returning from cancer Yuvraj realised that there is more to life. He cherishes the small things in life now. The demons that he had to face during the chemo cycles have toughened the man up. They have made him sensible too. He did not rush into training after returning from the treatment. He took his time and gradually shifted into full gear. The trainers at NCA made sure he was fir for T20 WC in Sri Lanka and that is where he made his comeback
Yuvraj’s story has been no short of a fairy tale. A young Punjabi boy who never even wanted to play cricket was forced into the sport by his father. And what followed was Yuvraj becoming the heart of this nation. The World Cup, the cancer, the comeback have been nothing but emotional and inspiring.
The story hasn’t ended though. A transformed Yuvraj Singh is set to rise and rule the world again.