How Yuvraj Singh Was ‘Yo-Yo’-ed Out of Indian Cricket
From his 2017 comeback to retirement, here’s a timeline of Yuvraj Singh’s steady decline in Indian cricket.
“This game taught me how to fight, how to fall, to dust myself off and 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 has taught me.”
These were Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh’s words after he announced retirement from all formats of international cricket in June this year. At the press conference in Mumbai at the time, the all-rounder had revealed that he’d been offered a farewell match only if he failed to pass the demanding fitness test – the yo-yo test. But the 37-year-old said he had turned down that offer, passed the test and that the ‘rest’ was not in his hands.
In an interview on Thursday, 26 September, the World Cup-winning cricketer further spoke about how he had been phased out of the Indian cricket team, with the team management just finding ways to get rid of him.
Yuvi, who last played in India colours in 2017, said that the management, i.e. the captain and the coach should have been “upfront” with him in their communication about his career.
Starting with the Champions Trophy in 2017, here’s a timeline of Yuvraj’s career until he retired.
The 2017 Comeback
Having fizzled out post the World T20 in 2016, Yuvraj made a typical ‘Yuvi comeback’ to the Indian team for the ODI series at home against England in January 2017. He had last played a 50-over game for India three years before that.
After a low score of 15 in the series opener, the explosive batsman smashed a career-best 150 off 127 balls in the second one-dayer followed by a 45 in the third ODI. He was then picked in India’s Champions Trophy squad, and started his campaign with a half-century against Pakistan at Birmingham. He went on to score a total of 105 runs in 4 innings, India’s fifth-highest run-getter in the tournament.
In the same month, he toured West Indies for the five-match ODI series, scored 4, 14 and 39 in the first three games before getting replaced by Dinesh Karthik due to a hamstring niggle. This was Yuvraj’s final assignment for India.
Yo-Yo Test Introduced
In the aforementioned interview, Yuvraj said that post the injury, he was asked to prepare for the next ODI series against Sri Lanka in August 2017. He was then told to take the newly-introduced yo-yo test, which the cricketer says he passed.
"I got injured and I was told to prepare for the Sri Lanka series. Suddenly I had to go back and prepare for the yo-yo test at the age of 36. Even after I cleared the yo-yo test, I was told to play domestic cricket," the left-hander recalled.
“They actually thought that I wouldn't be able to clear the test due to my age. And that it would be easy to decline me afterwards,” he said.
August 2017: Dropped, or ‘Rested’?
When the ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series was announced, Yuvraj Singh did not find his name in it. Back then, chief selector MSK Prasad insisted that the cricketer had just been ‘rested’ and that the doors to the national team were still open to him.
"I never thought that I would be dropped after being the man-of-the-match in 2 games out of the 8-9 I played after the 2017 Champions Trophy,” Yuvraj said.
December 2017: ‘Fitness Issues’
In December, Prasad said Yuvraj hadn’t been picked to play in the T20 series against Sri Lanka since he had fitness issues. “Yuvraj Singh has fitness issues. He has not played a lot of competitive cricket lately,” he had said.
On the same day, the cricketer at an event had said that he managed to pass the fitness test after failing it a few times.
Keeping the 2019 World Cup Dream Alive
Going back to the quote at the beginning of this piece – “I have failed more times than I have succeeded, but I never gave up.”
And it’s what Yuvraj did over the next 16 months. Not give up.
The cricketer remained out of favour as far as the Indian team was concerned, but did not give up on the hope of being able to play another World Cup. Post an unimpressive season in 2018, Yuvraj was let go by his franchise Kings XI Punjab. At the subsequent auction, the Indian cricketer was picked up by Mumbai Indians for his base price of Rs 1 crore after he went unsold in the first round of bidding. He ended up playing just four games this season even as his team went all the way to lift the title.
India named their 15-member squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup on 15 April, and no surprise – Yuvraj Singh wasn’t named.
June 2019: Drawing the Curtains
Just about a month after Mumbai were crowned IPL champions, an emotional Yuvraj Singh announced his decision to draw curtains on his illustrious career.
And it was Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma’s tweet on the day, that makes an important point.
Yuvraj Singh – hitter of six sixes in an over, the Player of the Series at the 2011 World Cup, and a star all-rounder of his generation – really deserved a better send-off, didn’t he?
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