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Reflections on a distracted ‘genius’

Though time is at a premium, Yuvraj is too good a batsman to remain scoreless for this long a time. India needs him as much as he needs runs, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Feb 15, 2008 01:44 IST
Pradeep Magazine

His physical features, his achievements and now his failures, everything about him is big. Even his ‘rock star’ image is larger than life.

Yuvraj Singh’s life sketch at the moment is incomplete. Whether on completion it will remind people of a genius who lived life on his own terms or of a man who frittered away God’s benedictions, no one knows.

It is still the unfinished story of a man whose destiny his father had almost willed even before he had stepped onto a cricket field.

Yograj Singh, the dabbler par excellence, whose CV, among many things, includes being a cricketer, film actor, coach and even a bully, would compare his son’s talent with “Richards, Sobers and Barry” and tell the world his son is “all three rolled into one”.

Not many cared to listen then, though those who had watched Yuvi take his initial steps into cricket’s young league, were impressed enough not to entirely dismiss these words as hyperbole only fathers are capable of saying about their children.

From Dilip Vengsarkar’s academy for juniors in Mumbai to the Indian team, Yuvraj took this big leap almost in one stride. While Yograj gloated in Chandigarh on how his words were turning prophetic, the son was being hailed as a rare stroke-filled genius. But a few heart-stopping innings later, failures accompanied the young man to such an extent that had skipper Sourav Ganguly not stood by him, his career might had been over faster than the burst of a bubble.

Like now, even then, questions were raised that Yuvraj’s potential as one of the finest batsmen in the making are being exaggerated. The then India coach John Wright would disagree. “He has the potential to be one of the greats of the game, but he has to understand talent alone can’t take you far.” Wright, who lives on understatements, could have said the same thing like this: “He has to discipline himself and work hard enough to fulfil his undoubted potential.”

As time went by, Yuvraj’s one-day career took a quantum leap, culminating in those breathtaking strikes in the T20 World Cup, and those uncertain lines on his biographical sketch were now acquiring definite shape and India was hailing a “genius”.

All he was left to do was silence all those who doubted his ability as a Test player, to be crowned as a challenger to the world’s best batsmen, be it a Ponting or a Tendulkar. His imperious Test hundred against Pakistan sealed Dravid’s fate as an opener for Australia as it was now impossible to keep Yuvraj out of the Test side.

His father’s CV became longer now as he became a bard for television channels, heaping undiluted praise on his son’s abilities.

Whether the immense pressure created by the collective expectations of a frenzied nation and of having forced someone like Dravid to change his batting order against his wishes or his inability to master the grammar of Test cricket, led to his first two Test failures is hard to guess. Or was it the same old cockiness that had caused his loss of form early on in his career, affecting him in Australia?

Doubts were being once again raised about his attitude.

The images of film star Deepika Padukone failing to get a chance to applaud her friend’s stroke play from the galleries did nothing to douse these rumours and as the tour is now almost coming to an end, the man who everyone believed would be the king, has lost his crown even before he could wear it.

He looks a lost, forlorn man on the field and who knows, could be watching a one-day match even from the dressing room.

Among the many quotable quotes from his father’s stable is the following gem: “I will talk about my son and how difficult it is playing for India only after he makes 10,000 runs and has captained the side for 100 Tests.”

Is this going to remain a dream seen by a father or is Yuvraj Singh going to fight the demons in his mind and once again come out blazing with his bat to resurrect himself?

Though time is at a premium, Yuvraj is too good a batsman to remain scoreless for this long a time. India needs him as much as he needs runs.