Since the selectors have constantly overlooked veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh from India’s limited-overs setup, there were plenty of speculations circulating in the media concerning his retirement from the international arena. However, Yuvraj has busted all sorts of myth saying that the motivation to represent India is still there.
In an exclusive interview with CricketNext, Yuvraj stated that he wants to give himself every opportunity for one final shot at the 2019 World Cup in England.
“Obviously, I am looking to play cricket till 2019, whatever cricket I get to play. Selection is not in my hands. What is in my hands is to work hard and get better at whatever I am doing – whether it’s batting, bowling, fielding or my fitness. From when I was dropped last year, I have been thinking that all I can do is focus on myself and my cricket,” Yuvraj quoted.
“I was speaking to Sachin (Tendulkar), who has always been my mentor, and he asked me, ‘Why do we play the game? Just for the love of the game. Yes, we do want to play for India, but also, the game has given us everything’. I just want to enjoy the game, to appreciate that it has given me everything; I respect the game. I have cleared my fitness (yo-yo) test, I have bowled, I have got runs. I have done almost everything that is in my control. As I said, selection is not in my control. I am sure everyone is looking at the youngsters for building the team for this World Cup and the next World Cup. It’s up to the selectors and the coach/captain to decide, it is entirely their call. I just want to play whatever cricket I get to play till 2019, and then take a call,” he added.
Yuvraj might have been away from international cricket for 16 months now, but he often grabbed the headlines for his stellar showing in domestic cricket. In the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, the southpaw has played seven innings for Punjab and has amassed 264 runs at an average of 37.71. Moreover, Yuvi’s strike-rate (81.48) along with nine sixes shows the great form he has been in.
“When I am hitting the ball out of the park at will, and not having that fear that I am going to get out, that is when I am feeling good. All my cricket has been fearless. Obviously, you have to see the situation and play accordingly. But when I start hitting the ball out of the park and doing that consistently, then I feel that I am in a good space,” he asserted.
Yuvraj is looking in a very good shape in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. And that is no accident, as he reveals.
“My decision to make is that I want to go happily playing the game. I didn’t have a good domestic season last year, I had a bad IPL,” he said. “I took a break and I thought that if I am looking to play another year or two years, I want to go playing this game happily because this game has given me everything.
“So I went to England for five weeks to a training camp this summer, I worked hard on my fitness. I was in Cirencester, at a habitat centre. I worked with a trainer called James, a former Marine, for five weeks. And when I got back home, I had another three weeks on my own; I had eight weeks of fitness before I started the season. I didn’t have too much good (batting) practice before coming here, I just played one practice game against Madhya Pradesh. But I just felt mentally very good.
“I felt that I was fitter, I was stronger compared to last year, when I was not in a good mental space. The key for me has always been to be in a good mental space, that’s when I have played good cricket. I have just focussed on being in a good space and obviously, the results showed. I have been hitting the ball really well and scored a few consistent scores. Let’s see what happens now,” he elaborated.
Yuvraj’s last ODI appearance was in June 2017 against the West Indies just after the Champions Trophy in England. He had earned a recall to the ODI side in January 2017 and celebrated his return with a majestic 150 in the second match against England in Cuttack.