It has been 40 years since I was dropped from the Indian team and I have lived with this pain through out my life. On the day of Yuvraj’s retirement, I want to tell that Yuvraj’s story began at that time. He was one-and-half-years old when I got him his first cricket bat and ball. My mother Gurnam Kaur bowled the first ball to him. We still have that picture.
Growing up, he would skate and play tennis but I would break his skates and tennis racquets. He would cry and he would call our Sector 11 house a jail. He would call me Dragon Singh. But then as a father I have the right to ask my son to get back my honour and make me walk with pride again.
Yuvraj was six when I took him to Sector 16 Stadium, where I used to train. There used to a pace academy and I would tell Yuvraj to practice without helmet.
He would run for more than one and half hour at the stadium daily. I remember once my mother was death bed and she told me that I was spoiling Yuvraj’s life with such a harsh training. That was the only time I regretted being harsh on my son.
Yuvi hated cricket and I made him love cricket, which is his life now. Usko cricket ki intoxication ho gayi and now the whole world knows what he has achieved.
I remember Yuvraj hit 180 playing for Rest of India against Punjab in a U-19 national tournament and Raj Singh Dungarpur was watching the match at Hyderabad. Yuvi was 16 at that time and Dungarpur said this boy should be in the Indian team. I told him, sir give me two more years. And Yuvi proved that in Kenya, where he made his debut in 2000.
Had it not for the knee injury, that he suffered while playing kho-kho when Greg Chappell was the coach, he could have broken all the ODI and T20 records. (The Indian team during Chappel era played indigenous games for warm-up before net sessions). I cannot forgive Chappell for that.
When he suffered from cancer, it made me cry too. I would ask God that this story cannot end this way. I would cry in my room all alone. I didn’t cry in front of him. He would tell me that ‘Papa, even I die, I want you and the whole country to see the World Cup trophy in my hands’.
Last week, we spent two days in Chandigarh together and those were my best two days since Yuvraj started playing. We talked about those things, which we could not talk earlier. He tried to understand me. Today, when he thanked me for making him a man, I felt the proudest. —(As told to Nitin Sharma)