Yuvraj Singh believes that Sourav Ganguly’s appointment as BCCI president with usher in “great things for Indian cricket” and hopes his former captain will create a players’ association comprising active cricketers.
“Cricket from the administration point of view and cricketer’s point of view are two different things. Someone who has been a successful captain will run the game from a players’ point of view where cricketer’s concerns can be heard. I see great things happening to Indian cricket with Sourav as the president,” he says. “We deserve it. Because there are a lot of times we have been asked to play cricket that we don’t want to. We have to play with the pressure that if we don’t play we will be thrown out,” Yuvraj explains. “That pressure has to go off the players that even if they are tired or fatigued or carrying injuries, they have to play,” he notes.
Yuvraj cites the example of Glenn Maxwell, who has taken a break from international cricket to deal with mental health issues and has got the backing of his board. “That support should be given to the players. We see outside India, if players are fatigued and tired mentally, like is the case with (Glenn) Maxwell, he has taken a break because he is feeling it. “Our players can’t do that because they fear they may lose their place. So a players’ association is important,” the 2011 World Cup winner explains.
Player fatigue remains an ailment that has remained unchecked in Indian cricket and young cricketers have begun to speak on this issue. “Body is tired, I am fatigued mentally. But no one is going to say take rest, Kisi ko kuch farak hi nahi pada,” 24-year-old Shreyas Iyer, a top-order batsman had told The Indian Express. “We are not machines. There is no one to tell that players don’t get adequate rest. We are playing non-stop for two years. I am out of home for 300 days. Even if am in India, I am not home.”
It’s an issue that Yuvraj may have faced during a glittering career that saw him help India win the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup. Since retiring from international cricket back in June, he’s been taking sojourns abroad to play in franchise-based leagues. His latest endeavour is the Abu Dhabi T10 League, but he remains concerned about players vying for their position in the national team — just as he once did. Who would be batting at No.4 has been problem troubling the national team for months. It’s an issue that the team has come nowhere close to solving. On September 29, Yuvraj replied in a tweet to Harbhajan Singh’s post that the team doesn’t “need a no 4.” It was a comment made in jest, but one that he feels strongly about.
“It was a joke, but actually we need to find a number four and respect the number four batsman and give him a longer run,” he says. “Every day someone is batting at that spot and we have some loose statements about him. After me it was (Ambati) Rayadu, who played for a whole year, then got dropped at the last minute, now Risbhabh (Pant) played well at number four in one game and there are remarks about him that now he is not doing well. You are not going to get a No.4 batsman by criticizing or dropping him… you have to support these young guys whether it is Rishabh, Shreyas or others. In between, there was Vijay Shankar ‘360 degree player’, now he has vanished. You play him and then remove him. How can you groom players this way? You cannot produce players by giving them just three of four innings, you have to give somebody a longer run.”
The problem, in Yuvraj’s views, stems from the way the selectors have been handling the team, and the only way to change it is to appoint a new selection panel with an updated look on the game. “We do need better selectors, for sure. It’s a difficult job but their thinking in terms of modern-day cricket is not up to the mark,” he adds. “It’s my opinion. I am always in favour of protecting the players and being positive about them. By talking negative about your players and team doesn’t show you in true light. We definitely need better selectors.”