It was a bit perplexing to see Yuvraj Singh’s name in India’s 30-member probables list for the World T20 that is going to be held in Sri Lanka in September.
Perplexing not because one doubts his class or because he returned home after completing his chemotherapy just a few months back in April 2012 or even that he has had almost played no competitive cricket since November 2011 – but simply because how do we know he’s ready?
Of course, being included in the probables doesn’t mean he will get picked in the final squad and to an extent, also tells us that he is recovering quite well. Yuvraj is already at the National Cricket Academy working on his fitness – but it takes a while to get back to your fittest and even then it means nothing.
Surely before a call up to the Indian team, he needs to play some Ranji Trophy cricket – at least the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament before he can be considered.
At a recent press meet, Rahul Dravid was asked about the relation with cricket and fitness. His answers made one thing clear – cricket is a skill-based sport.
“If you work out a lot during the off-season, you will come back a fitter cricketer. But does that mean you are a better cricketer? Fitter, yes. Better… Cricket is a skill-based sport and that means you have to hone your technique over and over again,” said Dravid.
Now, the inclusion of Yuvraj into the probables list proves nothing other than the fact that India’s selectors are trying to show that they sympathise with his fight to get back into the Indian team. In the short time that Yuvraj has been back, has he been able to get his technique back on track and will his fitness levels be decent enough?
By showing sympathy to Yuvraj Singh, they might actually do him more harm than good. And in that way, they are demeaning and devaluing his efforts. Is that what Yuvraj wants? Does he want fellow players to look at him with pity in their eyes and say that he hasn’t earned his place in the team fairly?
Athletes are often placed on a pedestal by fans – so much so that we forget they are human. That is, until misfortune strikes. Then everyone remembers that an athlete can suffer from the same problems as everyone else.
But to then see Yuvraj, or any other idol, fight back has been inspiring. It shows us that there are no limits to a man’s will. It also showed us, as Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton said after being diagnosed with cancer, that ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude.’
This is why one would rather have Yuvi fight his way back into the team. He’s done it so many times before – on his own. He needs to believe he can do this once again on his own and he doesn’t need the selectors throwing scraps of hope at him. He should refuse this honour and say he’d rather earn this place on the back of his performances on the cricket field. That is how it should be.
Lance Armstrong, who also recovered from cancer to dominate cycling, once said: What is stronger, fear or hope?
Well, right now, Yuvi is probably feeling a mix of both. We wish hope wins out – the real kind… not the one that the selectors are doling out because they are feeling generous.