A genuine match winner and a fighter, who battled through a deadly disease to come back strong, all of it can add up to Yuvraj Singh. A glorious career spanning more than 17 years, top scores of 169, 150 and 77* in Tests, ODIs and T20Is respectively, and a Test bowling average of 60.77, he can be well termed as one of the pivotal parts of India’s new age cricket.
He had a dream run at the 2011 World Cup, where he scored 362 runs including one hundred and four half-centuries, took 15 wickets, won four MoM awards and was also adjudged the player of the tournament. In 2012, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award and in 2014, the Padma Shri.
In June 2019, Yuvraj announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket. He said in his retirement speech that he has decided to provide service and help for cancer affected people.
Now, after a year and a few months later, Yuvraj has made a decision to come out of retirement and get back to the game. He was first approached by Punjab Cricket Association secretary Puneet Bali, who wanted him to rethink retirement for the benefit of his state’s cricket.
Although not very sure initially, Yuvraj could not ignore Bali’s request. “I gave it a lot of thought, for nearly three or four weeks and it was almost as if I did not even have to make a conscious decision in the end,” he told to Cricbuzz. Yuvraj’s mother Shabnam Singh said, “He is coming back from Dubai in a couple of days’ time and then we are going to have a long chat around all of this.” (Yuvraj Singh decides to come out of retirement, writes to BCCI, Economic Times, 2020)
“The PCA has accepted his comeback. But we are waiting for communication from the BCCI,” Bali told on September 11(Yuvraj still awaiting BCCI’s nod for his comeback: PCA secretary | Cricket News- Times of India, 2020). Yuvraj will probably play only the T20 format for Punjab.
His father Yograj Singh said, “He retired after 20 years of competitive cricket last year and it was his personal decision which I didn’t interfere. But even then I felt he shouldn’t have retired. In these times, in scorching heat, he trained Shubman (Gill), Prabh (simran Singh) and Abhishek (Sharma) for five hours each day.” (Yuvraj Singh decides to come out of retirement, writes to BCCI, Economic Times, 2020)
Before joining KKR in the UAE, Gill did his pre-season at the Punjab state team nets under Yuvraj’s mentorship. He is excited that Yuvraj is making a comeback to competitive cricket. “I think it will really be helpful for the Punjab youngsters. We spent a couple of weeks with Yuvi paaji. There were a lot of things that we talked about not just on the field but, you know some things off the field”, Gill said (Shubman Gill on Yuvraj Singh’s domestic comeback: Will be helpful for Punjab youngsters, Indian Express, 2020).
But his comeback to cricket might not be very smooth. “Getting to spend time with someone as experienced as Yuvraj could be the best thing to happen for the young players coming into the Punjab squad. But then, he has not only received a one-time benefit post-retirement but also gets a pension of around Rs 22500. These are all documented in the accounts of the BCCI as well from the time of his retirement in 2019,” an official told ANI (TN Sports Desk, 2020).
Yuvraj has already played two foreign leagues since his retirement. A month after quitting, he played for Toronto Nationals in Global T20 Canada. As per reports, he is also planning to play in the Big Bash League. “We are working with Cricket Australia to try to find him a home,” Yuvraj’s manager Jason Warne said on September 7 (Yuvraj Singh eyeing a stint in Big Bash League, Cricket Australia trying to find a club for him, Deccan Herald, 2020).
As per rules, an Indian player has to quit international and domestic cricket as well as IPL to play in foreign leagues. Hence, the regulations do not at all comply with Yuvraj’s request. Although he was one of the closest to Sourav Ganguly during their playing days and also after that, the BCCI president might have to tweak rules to let Yuvraj in.
Thus, how much of a fairy tale his comeback might sound, there are barriers in the way to turn it into a reality.
Cover Credits: Crickettimes