By Sunil Gavaskar
Yuvraj Singh's return to India after his treatment in the United States of America has warmed the cockles of the hearts of the Indian cricket lovers. Here is a man, who won the man of the tournament in the ICC World Cup last year where he helped his team win the trophy after 28 years, and who soon thereafter learnt that he had another battle on his hands. The manner in which he has handled that is pretty much the way in which he has handled critics of his so called attitude and approach to the game. If he let the bat do the talking for him on the field, his courage in staying the course of the debilitating treatment is awe inspiring indeed. He himself has admitted that he has taken strength from the love and affection of so many cricket lovers, not necessarily all of them being Indian and is resolute in getting back to the game sooner than later. Whether he will be able to play with the same devastating effect is something only time will tell, but if he goes by the manner in which Lance Armstrong came back from similar treatment and won the Tour de France several times then there could be some more big hitting ahead for cricket lovers.
What has not happened is the hitting below the belt, when he returned as when he left for his treatment. Maybe it was because he was wearing the cap back to front and so did not rouse these cynics to say that he was taking advantage of his return by endorsing a product. It amazes how people see motives in everything. These guys must be having miserable lives if they see a hidden agenda in every little thing. The fuss some of them made over the insurance advertisement that Yuvi made is a case in point. Yuvi had endorsed the product before his affliction so it was not as if he was exploiting his illness, but these cynics made it out as if he was using his illness for commercial gain. Yes, the second advertisement that he did brought out the uncertainties of life, but that also was brought out by the first one. There are others like Virender Sehwag, who have done a similar ad and what do you expect in an ad for an insurance company where the focus is going to be to be ready for the uncertainties in life. While in the earlier ad the message was that it is all well and good while the bat is working, but what happens after it stops and that is why it is better to be prepared for that eventuality with insurance. When Yuvi was diagnosed with his ailment the company had an even better reason to promote their product, but the blame came on Yuvi. Ironically these cynics who luckily are not regular cricket writers make money out of writing this stuff even as they point a finger at Yuvi for exploiting his illness. That is the beauty of it all. Make money accusing cricketers of making money. Wow! At least the cricketers do it with their talent and as this column proves writing a few hundred words is a piece of cake compared to scoring a run or taking a wicket even in backyard or ‘galli’ or tennis ball cricket.
Take the criticism of the IPL being a commercial event. Of course it is. Nobody pretends that it is Test cricket, but sheer entertainment it is what with the big hitting sixes and fours and song and dance and the action that it provides. What baffles is that the same objections are held every year of the IPL. That it tries to give too much mention to the sponsors than the cricket. This is hard to understand for the cricket gets the priority always, and then the sponsors. The sponsors pay big money to come on board so to give them a mention is absolutely necessary so that they come back again. Nobody seems to find fault with the overseas teams, who come to the presentation area of Test and one day internationals wearing their team sponsors cap or shirt or even wear the sponsor cap while watching the game from the players enclosure. That is accepted as giving the sponsor some extra value, but then why is it objectionable when it is done in the IPL. There is little doubt that the IPL sponsors are putting in much more money than the team sponsors in other countries. The irony is that all these cynics have sponsored columns or programmes themselves and so look so hypocritical when they criticize those involved with IPL as promoting commercial interest. They will criticize those who are defending the IPL as those, who are getting paid to do so even as they themselves are earning money criticising the IPL.
With the foreign cynics one can use Kevin Pietersen’s explanation of jealousy, but with Indian cynics all one can say is ‘mera Bharat mahan’. Live and let live.