After 25 years in and around the 22 yards and almost 17 years of international cricket, one of India’s most celebrated and decorated cricketers, Yuvraj Singh, announced his retirement from all forms on Monday. The Punjab lad captured the imagination of world cricket with his gravity-defying fielding abilities and effortless power-hitting.
His teenage entry in international cricket surely was an indication of things to come. In his second ODI ever, Yuvraj took the Australian fast bowling battery to cleaners in an exhibition of fearless batting at Nairobi during the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy, also earning him the Man-Of-The-Match award.
It took three years before he could score his first ODI century, and also earn his Test cap. In Test match cricket, Yuvraj had an affinity for Pakistan, scoring all his three centuries against them, first on a green top in Lahore in 2004, second in Karachi in 2006 and third, his best of 169 in Bengaluru.
His exploits at World T20 in South Africa have remained untouched till date. Yuvraj’s willow-wielding ways gave nightmares to almost every bowler through the tournament. Clobbering six sixes in the penultimate over bowled by Englishman Stuart Broad in Kingsmead was a moment not many cricket fans will forget. That performance against England took Yuvraj on top of the pile of fastest fifties in a T20I match, scoring 50 in just 12 balls, a record that still stands the test of time.
As time passed, Yuvraj became an established middle-order lynchpin for Indian team, and a man with a golden arm too. A testimony of his accomplished all-round abilities was the 2011 50-over World Cup where Yuvraj became the first all-rounder to score 300 plus runs and to take 15 wickets in a single World Cup. The feat included four MoM awards and Man-Of-The-Tournament for the 362 runs and 15 wickets.
Here's the full text of his statement:
I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to my friends from the media, my family, friends and fans from all across the world who are going to be part of, what is a very difficult and at the same time a beautiful moment for me I can’t really put it in words but I will try. 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. Thank you for taking the time out to be here and to support me.
Cricket has given me everything I have and is the reason why I stand here today. It was such a love-hate relationship with the sport. In retrospect, I don’t think I hated this game because the love I have for it today which will remain constant until the end of life. I can’t really explain it in words what is that feeling, this game taught me how to fight, how to fall, to dust myself off, to get up again and move forward.
I have failed more times than I have succeeded but I never gave up and will never give up till my last breath, and that’s what cricket taught me. I gave my blood and sweat to the game, once I got into it, especially when it came to representing my country.
Since my childhood, I always tried to fulfill my father’s dream to play for India and win the World Cup, and I can say I was lucky to have achieved it. I am thankful every day to the Almighty, both my Guruji’s Late Sant Baba Ajit SinghJi , Sant Baba Ram Singh Ji , and my mother and my father who guided me on the right path through this entire journey. I’m hoping that each one of you who matter in my life are proud of what I have achieved on and off the field.
And to my true fans who have always supported me endlessly, I can’t thank you enough especially when the times were tough.
As I go back in times 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 all like a dream, which was followed by a harsh reality - getting diagnosed of (sic) cancer. It was like touching the sky and then falling down at light speed and hitting the ground hard. As All this happened so quickly and that too when I was at the peak of my career.
But in that moment, everyone I knew, to whom I mattered, stood together for me; my fans, my friends and family. I would also like to thank the BCCI and BCCI president at that time Mr N Srinivasan for their support in my treatment. Thank You to both my Doctors – Dr Rohatgi who took me for the treatment to Dr. Lawrence H Einhorn in US who also treated Lance Armstong.
This brings me to my next focus in life, which is to help Cancer patients through my foundation YouWeCan. At YouWeCan we spread awareness about cancer and help the underprivileged by conducting screening camps, funding their treatments and sponsoring education to underprivileged cancer survived 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 example through my inspiring story.
On a lighter note, I would say I am extremely lucky to play 400+ games for India, I for one, would have not imagined doing this when I started my career as a cricketer. Through this journey, some matches that remain in my memory were the 2002 NatWest final, my first test hundred in Lahore in 2004, the 2007 Test series in England, of course the six sixes at the 2007 T20 World Cup and then the most memorable was 2011 World Cup finals.
Probably my worst day in my cricket career was the 2014 T20 World Cup final against Sri Lanka when I scored 11 off 21 balls. It was so shattering that I felt my career was over, and I was written off by everyone to an extent that it made me feel at times that it’s all over.
Then I took a bit of time off and that’s when I realised why I play cricket - its because I love the game. So I went back to basics, and scored heavily in domestic cricket and about a year and a half later I made by comeback in T20 for India again where I hit six and four in the last over against Australia in Sydney and suddenly all the belief came right back.
Though I was still in and out of the team for a while and after scoring almost 700 runs in 5 games in domestic cricket I finally made a comeback in one day cricket after three years in Cuttack, on 18th January against England in 2017 and recorded my highest one-day score of 150 (127). When everybody said it was impossible.
Trust me I never stopped believing in myself, no matter what the world said. Believe in yourself because if you put your heart & soul in to it you can achieve the impossible.
Cricket has given me some great friends and seniors. I started my career under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy and got an opportunity to play with my idol the great Sachin Tendulkar & other legends like Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid & Javagal Srinath, My close friends who I grew up with playing for INDIA who also went on to becoming (sic) great match winners for the country such as Zak, Gauti, Veeru, Ashu, & Bhajju. I made some great friends and not such great friends playing for so many years.
This is the same batch that created history and went on to win the World Cup under the great captaincy of MS Dhoni and exceptional coaching of Gary Kirsten, probably the best international coach I played under.
I would like to thank the selectors & Saurav Ganguly who picked me and gave me an opportunity to play for India in 2007. Selectors such as Mr Chandu Borde, TA Sekhar and others. I would also like to thank all my sports staff who made it possible for my body to last this long specially Nitin Patel & Ashish Kaushik. I would also like to thank National team coaches, various IPL team owners and staff, ground staff and anyone and everyone who helped me focus on my cricket by taking care of other things around it.
I played with some great teams like Pakistan winning and losing in 2004, 2006 & 2007 with Australia, losing to them in 2003 WC finals and beating them in 2007 WC t20 semi-finals and again beating them in 20011 quarter-finals. These were some epic battles and I’ll always cherish these memories for rest of my life.
The adrenaline rush playing for India, singing the national anthem before each game, touching the Indian flag, stopping every run for the team or scoring every run for the team was a completely different high. To be a part of the history that was made after 28 years, I mean honestly what more could I ask for.
Last and most importantly, I would like to thank my family, my mother who is present here today; my loving mother who has been the pillar of my strength and I feel has given me birth twice, my loving wife Hazel who stood by me in my tough times and my close friends who get sick of me but are always there for me, everybody who I love is here today except my dad thank me my friends in media that he is not here today and just his message (lol).
I think it’s a perfect day to move on.
Last but not the least thank you to all my well-wishers in media for capturing this lovely journey !!! And a very special thank you to the entire team of Endemol for putting this film together and the entire team of Wizcraft for putting the on ground event together.
Thank You once again for being with me and I hope you accompany me in my next journey. See you on the other side.