Asia Cup 2010 June 7, 2010

A wake-up call for Yuvraj Singh

There is no way India can have thrown Yuvraj out of their World Cup plans, but if a message was to be sent it had to be sent early enough
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His sweet timing has earned him most of his paycheques, but it seems to have gone off during what has somehow become the worst phase of his career.

A night before he was dropped for the first time from the one-day side since cementing his place, news channels had Yuvraj Singh dancing with a pop star. Now that picture and video are all over, on channels, channels' websites, and other websites. As if dancing is a crime. That, however, goes with the image we have of him: an irresponsible brat not serious about his game. Convenient, but often unfair.

A night before he was dropped, Star Cricket ran the highlights of the Lord's final from 2002 when this 20-year-old, along with Mohammad Kaif, was providing Indian limited-overs cricket with the final missing pieces. He flew across at point to almost pull off the most outrageous of catches. He dropped the ball at his feet and ran. With Kaif he took an overthrow off a soft ricochet from Alec Stewart's gloves. He looked lithe.

He now has a dodgy shoulder and knee; the latter needs surgery, which he has been putting off since 2006. Still, he has managed to remain a single-handed match-winner in one-day cricket. Add some canny left-arm spin, and he's been MS Dhoni's go-to man until recently. Yuvraj didn't disappoint either. What he brought to the side is not taught in coaching clinics, the ability to run away with matches before you can spell momentum. In as late as 2008, he was put under pressure when not picked for Irani Cup, with youngsters - Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli - breathing down his neck. He turned it around spectacularly, walloping England and continuing that form until the Champions Trophy last year.

Since then he has had to pull out of three series. He perhaps rushed back from a wrist injury to play in the IPL: he had missed the ODI series against South Africa barely a week before that. The Yuvraj that came back looked bulkier around the waist. He has played 11 innings for an average of 24.7 since that Champions Trophy; not in itself a statistic that warrants a drop, which is what makes this an interesting choice.

The selectors, as usual, won't even say if they have dropped him or if he is injured. However, since the BCCI release gives a reason for resting Sachin Tendulkar and not Yuvraj, it is pretty clear the latter has been dropped. "I'm not going to speak about any individual player," said the ever-mysterious chairman of selectors, K Srikkanth. "A lot of stress was given on the fitness of a player. Fitness and fielding are very important. In recent past, we lost some matches or struggled in some matches because of poor fielding. So the selectors put lot of stress on fielding."

Yuvraj the batsman still has more quality than Raina, Kohli and Rohit. There is no way India can have thrown him out of their World Cup plans, but if a message was to be sent it had to be sent early enough. Ideally India will want to start zoning in on a XV by the time Australia visit for an ODI series in November.

If the selectors thought his fitness was bringing the rest of the team down, there were two ways to go about it: keep him in the side and put him through a tough regime, or go for the old kick up the backside. Perhaps the selectors felt they had tried the first and it didn't work. It is a move that can be debated, but can also be understood. Srikkanth has known Yuvraj from his Under-19 days, and one can hope he knows best how to rescue this match-winner.

For Yuvraj, though, it must come as a harsh indictment. To be dropped for the first time, and that too on fitness issues. And at the age of 28. There is already a school of thought that a batsman of his talent should have worked harder and made himself a Test career. Only last week he said in an interview that he hoped his average run didn't continue into Tests. Now even his ODI place is not certain.

Yuvraj the batsman is not known to fight his way through a slump. He either hits out of it or gets out. He lives by aggression, dies by it, which is part of his charm. Now, though, is time for Yuvraj the athlete to slog it out, because there is no easy way out. There is every chance India will come back to him at least once before the World Cup. How ready he is then, and after that, might just define his career.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hemanofindia on June 11, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    I think something or many is wrong in the whole process. How could it take so long to come to a decision. Yuvraj et al were given many chances. And why Uthappa is not selected. Remember before zimbabwe tour they said.. team had already been chosen. Now, what can they say this time. Is the selection solely on performance or is it biased? I remember it is Srikaanth who used to echo in pre-match program Fourt Umpire on DD National: "There is no player better than Robin Uthappa to utilize the powerplay" At that time he was not in good form too. Now he is in excellent touch and it is perhaps not evident to the same person being chief selector. Where is the transparency. When people get power their actions get biased because in that way they get more power. A swimmer can swim better downstream but when he reaches the destination going upstream his self-belief is far to combat any obstacle. Learn from it selectors. Select for your country. Or hand over your job to Vengsarkar again.

  • dummy4fb on June 10, 2010, 12:24 GMT

    Hi,

    The phrases "The selectors, as usual, won't even say if they have dropped him or if he is injured" and "the ever-mysterious chairman of selectors, K Srikkanth" ring so true.

    When dropping players, selectors need to adopt corporate rules of communication:

    1. Give the player clear and explicit feedback. Yuvi may have read between the lines here but was clear and explicit feedback given to him?

    2. Be transparent about the decision. One may debate about the pros and cons of the decision ad nauseum but by being transparent about their process and decision making the selectors would be sending out a message of fairness and confidence in their processes.

    Instead the selectors here have adopted a politician-like vagueness that smacks of CYA. And here I certainly go with chokkashokka's description of the Chairman of Selectors, K.Srikkanth, as a circus clown.

    Thanks and Regards,

    D.Pramod

  • fusionsun on June 10, 2010, 10:07 GMT

    India has more talent than anyone else, but lack of descipline is the issue... Yuvraj hit 6 sixes in an over from SCJ Broad. Since then he has become a superstar, but success went the head instead of heart. See now, Broad is one of the top ten bowlers/alrunders in the world, and gifted batsman Yuvraj is out of India XV. England have never been a great side in last 15-20yrs. But we can learn from the fact that, ST Finn after an excellent series is made to work out in training and Broad has just finished the same. we need to learn quickly

  • sashi94 on June 10, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    I think the whole issue is with BCCI and its inability to manage an organization and its players properly. They need to ensure that players such as yuvraj and bhajji cant go around slapping people. They need to have in their contracts with their players a clause which says that if they gain too much weight, they will loose their contract and their spot in the team. BCCI also needs to pay the players well and have a cap on how many commercials and ads they can do in a year(MS Dhoni). The idea now with the BCCI and players is to make the most amount of money in the shortest time, not how to deal with the short balls!! If you want to make money, please pursue a different career... leave the Indian cricket team as the billion fans in India are sick of a team which keeps looooosing and has recurring problems!!

  • Easwar76 on June 10, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    I think that irfan will better choice in the position of allrounder than jadeja. Because we already have the part time spinners like viru, raina, rohit. So we need irfan in the XI. He is best in all department of fielding, bowl and bat in any position. This is the right time to yuvi to wakeup and think himself which one he want-to play for country or dance with models in pup.

  • dummy4fb on June 9, 2010, 22:59 GMT

    we wish him all the best and hope he will recover his form.1 for the fact is rarely do we ever see form like his when he is in full flow, an elegance of timing, unique in ability and maybe lacking the faith of the selectors in his haphazard form but a subliminal and devastating touch when he's in the mood.

  • chokkashokka on June 9, 2010, 20:00 GMT

    Finally we see some spine from the circus clown ie. Srikanth. The media in India tends to idolize guys like Yuvraj and most players don't have the maturity to deal with the attention. BCCI needs to provide that guidance to the players from a young age - not everyone player has the level-headed qualities of Tendulkar, Dravid or Kumble. For players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Jadeja etc. guidance with dealing with the attention could be critical so they don't turn out into a Yuvraj. Yuvraj still has time and he needs to get his head in the right place and his priorities straight. Hope he does not waste his talent

  • rkannancrown on June 9, 2010, 19:22 GMT

    Yuvi is an incredible batsman when he gets going - the problem is he has a loss of form. He can comeback before the WC. The good thing is the batting has a good look allowing selectors to leave out Yuvi. The break will do him good. With Sachin, Viru, Gambhir, Kohli & Raina ceratin in the line up , the toss up is really between Rohit Sharma & YUvi for the last slot. Thequestion really is how good is Rohit. He has had a couple of good innings but has repeatedly failed against quality attacks.Another issue which needs to be sorted out quickly is the position at which MSD & Gambhir will bat. The bowling appears to be the problem as we have only Bhajji & Zaheer as the certainties. We are yet to have a good quality spinner though Ojha, jadeja & Ashwin show some promise. The selectors have forgotten Murali Kartik who has generally performed well against quality opposition. The pace bowling depptt looks barren - and selectors have to zero in on core candidates quickly.

  • dummy4fb on June 9, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    I personally feel dat he is got more talent then dhoni or other young players but da thing is getting carried away or distracted by other things!!!!!!!!This guy is blessed wid blend of amazing timing n power in his stroke !! a very rare quality.i wonder y he is not able to show his true potential may b he is should learn from dhoni or others..dhoni is gud but he always punched abov e his weight whuch makes him betta or on a same par 2 yuvraj!!May b yuvraj lacked that x factor of never giving up!!!!!

  • Nampally on June 9, 2010, 16:02 GMT

    The dropping of Yuvraj is fully justified on his "on Field" attitude alone. Once a brilliant fielder is now just a shadow of himself. His batting is lapsidazical. Get Real Yuvi - Your poor attitude is also rubbing off on the younger members. So this is more than just a "wake Up" call. Show us by your performance on the field and by getting serious about it or you are OUT. I congratulate the Selectors on this hard line. Talent has to be converted into performance like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman & Sehwag did and more recently Dhoni. Nobody's place is guaranteed with performance such as that of Yuvraj 's during past 2 years. Jadeja is a bad replacement for Yuvi (poor bowler & average batsman) - Irfan Pathan is considerably better than Jadeja. Yusuf Pathan & Jadeja had too many chances and performed poorly especially Yusuf. The side for Asian cup is better than the side sent for World 20/20 in WI. Ashwin & Tiwary are great addirions. Ashwin must be in 11 to improve V.poor Indian bowling.

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