Yuvraj Singh retires: World Cups, Cancer and an unembellished exit

Indian cricket player Yuvraj Singh attends a news conference after announcing his retirement fromcricket in Mumbai, India
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India v England - Second One Day International - Barabati Stadium, Cuttack, India - 19/01/17. India's Yuvraj Singh celebrates after scoring a century
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Those who believe that the 37-year-old fell way short of realizing his potential must understand that Yuvraj was plagued by a deadly disease (cancer) when he was at the peak of his career. Had that not happened, you never know, the following years could have been the defining phase of his career.

After Yuvraj Singh announced retirement from all forms of cricket on Monday, following an extremely successful career, we look back at the roller-coaster ride that he’s had.

The formative years

It was at the beginning of the century, in 2000, when a young and lanky Indian cricketer took the cricketing world by storm. In his very second match, against the mighty Australian bowling attack comprising Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee, at Nairobi, Yuvraj raced to a breezy 84, taking India to a 20-run win.

Soon after, he turned into an overnight cricketing hero with a 63-ball 69 against England in the final of the NatWest Trophy at the home of cricket, Lord's, which helped India chase an improbable target of 326. Yes, the same knock which led to Sourav Ganguly removing his shirt at the Lord’s balcony.

World Cup hero

Yuvraj kept taking strides in what was an eventful international career, but he really came of age in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, a format almost tailor-made for the southpaw. Now, we come to the elephant in the room. Yes, the six sixes. The images of a dejected Stuart Broad, a concerned skipper Paul Collingwood and an Andrew Flintoff with that-move-went-so-wrong look on his face come to mind. T20 cricket has never been the same since Yuvraj smacked those sixes en route to a 16-ball 58 at a strike rate of over 360.

Just as breathtaking was his knock against Australia, a few days later, in the second semi-final at Durban. The elegant left-hander’s 30-ball 70 helped India get over Australia in the semi-finals and then go on to lift the first-ever World T20 trophy.

A bit of a lull followed, as it had to. You have to go troughs to experience crests, this is how life progresses. After being in and out of the side between 2007 and 2011, Yuvraj’s selection in the Indian World Cup squad for the 2011 edition was uncertain; an event which the country was hosting.

In line with his image of being a big match player, the selectors and the team management entrusted their faith in him and included him in the squad. And boy did he deliver! Apart from 362 runs from nine matches at an imperious average of 90.50, with one century and four half-centuries, he added real value to the team by bagging 15 crucial scalps and delivering seven-eight overs in almost every match.

You needed runs, there was Yuvraj; you wanted to break a threatening partnership, there he was again, waiting to unleash his best at the biggest stage. After the 2007 T20 World Cup, he proved to be a talisman for India, yet again when the country needed him the most. Hence, in two of the most proudly possessed trophies of Indian cricket in this century, Yuvraj was at the helm of affairs.

An unexpected guest

“As I go back in time today, my life has been like a roller coaster ride. Winning the 2011 World Cup, being Man of the Series, four Man of the Match awards was a dream. Which was followed by a harsh reality - getting diagnosed with cancer. It was like touching the sky and then falling down at light speed and hitting the ground hard as all of this happened so quickly and when I was at the peak of my career,” Yuvraj said at the press conference, where he announced his retirement.

Those who believe that the 37-year-old fell way short of realizing his potential must understand that Yuvraj was plagued by a deadly disease such as cancer when he was at the peak of his career. Had that not happened, you never know, the following years could have been the defining phase of his career. Nevertheless, just the fact that he represented India after battling cancer says a lot about his grit and determination and makes him a hero, not only on the cricket field but besides that as well.

Life after cricket

As Yuvi hangs his boots, he will now focus on making a difference through his foundation YouWe Can, which works for cancer patients. “This brings me to my next focus in life - which is to help cancer patients through my foundation YouWe Can. At YouWe Can, we spread awareness about cancer and help the underprivileged by conduction screening camps, funding their treatments and sponsoring the education of the underprivileged cancer kids. We have also started our own merchandising arm, YWC for the foundation to help generate funds for the cause. I really want to make a difference to the society by setting examples through my inspiring story,” said Yuvraj.

The last few years have not been the best for Yuvraj Singh, the cricketer. In fact, it was a pity to see his pale shadow, battling it out on the cricket field for every run. Now that it has come to an end, Yuvraj retires as no less than one of the greats of the game. As he starts a new inning, we wish him a blessed life. May he continue to bat firmly on the front foot!

©Cricket World 2019