Home > Cricket News, Interview > ‘It’s frustrating not to be able to play Tests’ :Yuvraj Singh

‘It’s frustrating not to be able to play Tests’ :Yuvraj Singh

Some things never change, yaar,” Yuvraj Singh drawls in his thick Punjabi accent when it’s pointed out that his hotel room is as messy as ever and that there are pairs of brand new designer sunglasses on virtually every table available. Always fashion conscious and up to the minute, there’s a freshness and youthfulness to Yuvraj even after seven years and 188 one-day internationals. But a lot has changed. He is less diffident, and the cockiness of the early days has grown into quiet confidence. He spoke to Cricinfo about making it big in Twenty20, the responsibilities of being a senior player, and that over against England at the World Twenty20.

The natural place to start is your six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad, because that’s what you’re going to be remembered by. Given that you now have some distance on the event, do you want to talk us through it?
It was the greatest moment in my cricketing career. Obviously after getting hit for five sixes in the Oval match it was on the back of my mind. Fortunately it came against England, so it was a very pleasing day.

The guy you hit was not a part-time bowler. He was someone who troubled India all tour in England, bowling quick, swinging the ball. How did it happen?
Stuart Broad is one of England’s young frontline bowlers and he’ll play a lot of cricket for England.

We had only three overs to go and too many wickets in hand, so I just had to hit every ball. He tried bowling yorkers and didn’t get them right. I just thought I’d hit the ball straight – that was on my mind, and I was not thinking of anything else. I succeeded in hitting every ball of the over for six, and coming against a fast bowler that’s something special.

You’ve played in domestic Twenty20 with barely anyone watching you. Now the game will pick up in India. What’s your take on this?
When I was playing there was a decent crowd, given that it was a domestic Twenty20 game. The only thing that’s changed is that India has won the Twenty20 World Cup. And the way the tournament has come up is important. It was organised very well – and even the 2003 World Cup in South Africa was organised very well. It’s getting there but I don’t think it’s going to kill 50-over cricket.

Every form of the game is important. It’s just that you have to channelise them in different ways. It’s great fun for the spectators, good entertainment, lots of enjoyment for the batsmen, but not good for the bowlers. I would not like to bowl in Twenty20. At the end of the day it’s an entertaining format.

Speaking of formats, in your time you’ve played a lot of one-day cricket, and now succeeded in Twenty20, but you’ll still be looking at a Test spot, right?

Of course. I’ve been around playing for India for seven years and even now I struggle to find a spot in the Test side. It gets really frustrating as an individual. If you don’t have talent you won’t think about it, but if you do have talent it bothers you. I’ve stopped thinking about it. It’s better to be focused on whatever form of the game you play, and work hard, learn from watching other teams playing and from your seniors. I think it’s very important to be occupied and playing cricket rather than thinking about what’s going to happen if I play Test cricket or don’t play Test cricket. It’s important to be occupied and play whatever game you can.

You’ve become comfortable batting where you can. You spent the best part of your career at No. 6 and No. 7. You said in an earlier interview that you’d enjoy batting up the order. Do you think you’re a better batsman now, a more mature batsman, suited to batting up the order?
I’ve matured a lot in one-day cricket because I’ve played so many games now. Obviously there’s room for improvement and I’m still improving. But I’ve tried to understand the game, for my team and for myself. For me it’s very important to bat in the period between the 15th and 45th overs so I can try and set a base for the team. That’s what I look to do, try and play till the end and put the team in a good position.

Experience is one factor, but are you a better batsman now technically as well? Often this has been cited as a problem, especially in Test cricket – for example how you play the moving ball outside the off stump.
I have two Test hundreds and they’ve come on green tops in Pakistan. So I’m pretty confident about myself. I have worked on my technique and temperament, and yes, my technique has improved. Watching the best players you learn a lot of things. I have no doubts about myself, and a lot of confidence. I love proving people wrong and I wish to do the same in the future.

You were appointed vice-captain and clearly the selectors and others were looking at a captaincy role for you. When Rahul Dravid stepped down and the job went to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were you disappointed?
I won’t say disappointed. Dhoni is a guy who is always helping the team out and looking out for the best interests of the team. At that point of time I thought that being the captain is not in my hands and it’s not my call. My job is to just try and do the best for the team. It’s the selectors who decide and whoever they think is the best man for the job gets it. I just have to concentrate on my game and make sure that the team goes forward from here. Thinking about being captain and not being captain becomes a personal issue. When it comes it comes, and at the moment we have to put the team first.

More than once you’ve spoken about playing with and against the best players. You have some of these in your team. But now you’re playing against the Australians and sometimes it looks as though they’re playing at a different level from the rest, doesn’t it?
Yeah, it does. Because they have a great unit. They set very high standards for themselves. When you see them playing, you see a different kind of cricket, very aggressive cricket. They’re different from a lot of teams because they’re very aggressive and very consistent. Lot of teams try to play like them and don’t succeed. I think that’s very wrong. Every team has its strengths and weaknesses. You have to play according to what your strengths are. If you try and match how Australia play, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

There’s been a lot of talk about how this team is full of youth and there’s a great spirit in the dressing room and how this is a new Indian team. We’ve heard all this before, haven’t we? How much of this is really new and how much is hype?

When youngsters come in they bring in a lot of aggression and a lively atmosphere in the dressing room. This is bound to happen when there’s a lot of diving on the field and that sort of thing. But you should not forget what the seniors have done for you. They’ve played for many years and brought great laurels to India. There has to be a balance. For one-day cricket you need to be really fit and have a good fielding side. Obviously when you see guys like Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwari, [Subramaniam] Badrinath, Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir – the way they field, it’s fantastic. Guys like Bhajji [Harbhajan] and Irfan [Pathan] coming back under a lot of pressure, it’s great for the team. It’s a very good group of youngsters and this is the future of Indian cricket, so it’s very important that they are groomed properly. This is what you’re going to get in the future, but you should not forget what the seniors have done for the country.

It’s interesting sitting with you and you speaking about youngsters. On the field you’re like a kid yourself, diving around and hitting sixes. But you’ve quietly grown up and become a senior player, haven’t you?
When I was a kid I used to try and hit every ball out of the ground. After playing one-day cricket and Test cricket I never thought I’d get a chance to play like that again ever. Twenty20 has given me the opportunity of playing like a kid again. I can just feel free and go out there and hit. Once a year Twenty20 must come around!

But I take your point. It’s been seven years since I started playing for India. When I was a young kid I’d see my seniors helping out. Now I try and do that with the juniors coming in – make them feel comfortable and tell them what the right path is.

Even if you’re not captain of the side, as you become a senior player in the side and as people like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly ease out of the game, you have a leadership role to play, don’t you?
Of course. Being the vice-captain of the team, I have to take as much pressure off Dhoni as I can. Being the vice-captain, you see a lot of things on the field. You have to try and help the captain as much as you can and lead by example on the field. Small things like getting a run-out or taking a catch makes the other boys try and lift their standards. So yes, I do have an important role even if I’m not captain.

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Categories: Cricket News, Interview

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