At the launch of his official website,
, India’s flashy southpaw, Yuvraj Singh is in a casual and relaxed avatar, with his boyish grin and a bagful of his life’s anecdotes ready-at-hand.
He reveals that the media’s most-asked question to him, is ‘Who is the real Yuvraj Singh?’ and insists he’s exactly the same on-field and off it. “I’m like any other 27-year-old, who likes to hang out with friends, watch a few movies, eat good food and party,” Singh laughs.
You are more accessible than any other Indian cricketer, with a Twitter account, and now, a website.
Yeah, I always wanted to be closer to my fans. People ask me for my email address or phone number, but I obviously can’t share that. So I wanted to feel more connected to them. My blog on my website and Twitter is a great way to interact with people around the world, not just within the city or country.
What do your fans say to you on Twitter?
All kinds of serious, as well as funny things. (Chuckles) When I get out in a match, they advice me not to hit the ball in the air and when I play slowly, they ask me to hit harder. Once, I got out on zero and a girl asked me to cook food while she would go out and bat! I like interacting with them, and understanding where they are coming from, as they are passionate about cricket.
I enjoy replying to them too. If I don’t, they send me tweets like, ‘You have no courtesy to send even one reply after I sent you so many messages.’ (Laughs) I tell them I’m sorry, and was busy playing cricket.
You’ve shared some interesting anecdotes about your life on your website. Tell us about your near death experience as a kid.
I was very young. I was struggling in school, not getting any marks. My father, who worked in Punjabi films, was angry with me and thought I might as well shoot with him, if I didn’t study. The shot was of me running alongside a train. It was a local train in Panipat, and people were trying to catch me. Someone tripped me, and my head almost went between the wheels of the train. But somebody pulled me out just in time!
You’ve also blogged about your childhood. You seemed to be quite a naughty kid.
(Grins) Yeah, I’m quite fun loving and I did quite a few silly things as a kid. My parents would always tell me to do this, or do that, but at that time, you think you know everything — what do the parents know?
I would often scare my mother with a mask, when I was very young. (Laughs) I remember my mother would run behind me with a stick the entire day! Once, when I was seven, I pestered her to get me a bicycle. Eventually, she gave in. I drove it straight into a rickshaw and got 10 stitches! So now, of course, I realise, how parents are always right.
You’ve even damaged college property with your lofty sixes. Did you often face problems with the authorities?
I studied in DAV college, and my father was the cricket coach there, for 20 years. And the college cricket competition in Chandigarh was quite a big deal. The finals would usually be between our college and SD college. Winning the championship was priority for us.
In fact, once, I thought that I’d just check out how a class ws, instead of playing. When I went to the class, the professor told me, ‘Beta, aapko padhne ki koi zaroorat nahin. Bas inter-college jitao, aur end semester ke exams dene aa jaana’. I was quite amazed!
Sounds like you had quite a fan following in college. Didn’t you sign your first autograph at that age?
(Sheepish grin) Yeah, I mean, people around me knew I was talented and I could play for India, because my dad made me work hard. I signed my first autograph at 17. I was playing a Ranji Trophy game in Pune with Harbhajan. Two young girls, who were probably our age, approached us and asked for our autographs. (Chuckles) We were very excited to see them, and obliged.
Harbhajan Singh and you go a long way. You both are famous for your pranks.
(Laughs) Yeah, man. Once, we played a prank on Dada (Saurav Ganguly). We got hold of a Press Release Form and typed out an entire statement from Dada, in which he was lashing out at Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh and me) and even faked his initials on the form. That evening, at the team meeting, we handed him the press release and told him about our disappointment at his statements.
(Grins) That was really bad for him! He was visibly upset and thought it was a conspiracy against him. We burst out laughing and his expression was worth a million bucks. After seeing his haalat, we never played another prank on him.
Your favourite cricket memory is of the six sixes you hit off England in the Twenty20 World Cup. What had Andrew Flintoff said to you that got you so charged up?
(Laughs) I can’t tell you because he somthing rude. And then, what I said to him was a bit rude too. But, unfortunately for England, his rudeness got me fired up a bit more than they had expected! It’s just that, when you are playing for your country, you want to compete in the best possible way. But of course, six sixes don’t come every day. So, I’ll always cherish them.
The IPL is about to start, but you won’t be the captain of the Punjab Kings XI team.
I’ll be a lot more relaxed when I play. I wish Kumara Sangakkara the very best as the captain.
Yuvi on friendship
‘I’ve always been a serious prankster’
Zak (Zaheer Khan) and I debuted together. We were at camp, eating lunch, when it was reported that we had been selected for the Nairobi tour. We jumped up and hugged each other, and ever since, we’ve shared many fond memories. I usually talk to him when I need to share something.
I’ve played with Harbhajan in my underwear too. We started at under-10, under-12 and have so many fond memories together. We’ve always been serious pranksters!
I like to chill out with youngsters like Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli too. (Grins) I rag them and give them a tough time! I enjoy it because I know they can’t do anything about it, and have to do whatever I say. It’s a lot of fun!
Yuvi on Sachin
‘Sachin is treated as God, even inside the dressing room’
I’ve always looked up to Sachin. He is treated as God, even inside the dressing room. I remember, first meeting with him, at a camp, as a teenager. He shook hands with me after the camp, and I rubbed that hand all over the body, because I had shook hands with ‘the Sachin Tendulkar’.
I was the last one to board the team bus at the end of the camp, and I saw, there was only one seat available on the bus — next to Tendulkar. (Chuckles) I was nervous and refused to sit, but the others said, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t say anything’. So, I sat next to him, and just looked at him the whole time, as he opened his bag and cleaned his pads and bat, etc. Then, he started speaking to me. I thought that was the luckiest day of my life!
Now, it’s amazing that we are great friends and I play with him.
TV Show: Friends. If I were a character on the show, I’d definitely be Joey. Because he’s always single and has no stress from the women!
Food: Mom’s home-cooked food. I love food, man. Even this trait is like Joey’s.
Music: I listen to a lot of r ‘n’ b. My favourite singers are Timbaland and Justin Timberlake and I’d love to do an r ‘n’ b video some day, behaving the way they do. I also love Bollywood music.
Superhero: Superman is my favourite, because he can fly. (Grins) I love Batman too, since I play with a bat.
Movie: Dilwale Dulhaniye Le Jayenge. I have watched it 10-15 times and was starstruck when I met Shah Rukh Khan. I also wanted to meet Kajol for the longest time, but didn’t get the opportunity. But recently, at a fashion show, she happened to be seated next to me. (Laughs) The first thing she asked me was to clap for Ajay Devgn, who was walking the ramp. It was quite a funny interaction. I told her I’m a big fan.