My son Yuvraj, like any Indian, has a dream to see India win the World Cup. It is his great fortune that he is a member of the Indian team and hopes to play an active part, minor or major, in realising that dream.
I know that each member of the Indian team will spare no effort and play with intensity and passion in trying to achieve that goal. I, as his mother, feel immensely proud that my son is in a position to provide so much of happiness and pleasure to millions of our countrymen through playing a sport that is almost akin to a religion in this country.
Having said this, I also know, being a cricketer in this country is not easy. The expectations of the public, media and sponsors are so great that a failure is akin to a suicidal act which leaves the players badly bruised. It has happened to most players and my son is no exception. From hero to zero, as the saying goes, is a dreadful feeling and I have seen Yuvi suffer each time he has failed and all sorts of hurtful motives attributed to it.
I get this uneasy feeling each time I see the media build-up reach a crescendo, like this time, when it almost is being taken for granted that we will win the World Cup.
I hope we do, but as someone who has now been associated with the game so closely, I know there are other 16 teams too in the competition and each team and each player playing will have the same dream. And there are teams and players who on a given day can upset any other team and even go on to win the Cup.
Unpredictability is the essence of sports and no one understands this better than those who play it. It is a high pressure world but what worries the players most is not the fear of failure alone but the media and public backlash which can make their life miserable.
It has happened in the past. In 2003 World Cup, a couple of Yuvi’s teammates were made the target of that anger. This happened in 2007 World Cup as well after we did badly.
No player wants to play badly. He would give his life to see his team do well, but as I said earlier, failure is part of sport and the pressure of huge expectations and the fear that media and public will rip you apart create their own tensions for the players and their performance can get affected.
Keep them free
What a tension free mind can do was shown in the T-20 World Cup in South Africa. No one gave them a chance, the players played free of any pressure and we became the champions.
The reason why I gathered this courage to make my thoughts public is that as a mother of a cricketer, I know what goes through the mind of a player.
And when I say this, I know, I speak for all the parents and the members of the Indian team, that please support the team, wish them well and, god willing, they will come out winners. But also understand, this is sports and any result here is possible.
My appeal to the fans and the media is that let us not create an atmosphere which creates so much pressure on the players that they may be worried that what if something goes wrong? I am sure all fans of the Indian team will agree that this does not help.
(Shabnam Singh is India cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s mother)