Mumbai, Nov 20: Former captain Kapil Dev today said Yuvraj Singh, who played his first Test since recovering from a rare germ cell cancer in Ahemedabad, needs to be more focussed to establish himself in the longer format of the game.
“I hope he plays well in Test cricket, which is his passion. In one-dayers and Twenty20, there is no better stroke player in the world like him. But he needs to establish himself in Test cricket. He needs to focus better,” said Kapil at the launch of the book ‘Yuvi', penned by senior journalist and columnist Makarand Waingankar, here.
Former chief national selector Dilip Vengsarkar, at whose academy Yuvraj played in his initial days, rued that the left-handed batsman did not play enough Test matches. “Over the years he didn't play many Test matches, which, I feel very bad about,” Vengsarkar said.
The former captain, and member of the 1983 World Cup winning squad led by Kapil, said he put faith in his former ward when he became the chief selector and ensured that he played a Test series.
“When I became a selector, I made sure that he played a Test series. He played against Pakistan in Bangalore, where he scored 169. It was one of the finest innings, I have seen in Test match cricket.
“But unfortunately, he got injured in one of the training sessions, because of which he couldn't play for a year. That I feel was a let-down for him because he is such an outstanding cricketer. The shots he executes would make (West Indian legend) Garry Sobers proud,” he said.
Vengsarkar said he had spotted exceptional talent in Yuvraj who would clear the boundary line with ease.
“The talent we could see was exceptional. He could clear the ground and would clear 120 metres boundary lines at Oval maidan. He was very obedient, very disciplined and extremely focussed,” he said.
The former Test middle order batsman also recounted the incident when Yuvraj first came to his academy and could not cope up with travelling in crowded Mumbai local trains. “He was 15 years old and stayed with Makarand in Andheri.
When he came to the academy at Oval maidan for the first time, the session was at 3 pm and Yuvi reached there at 5 in the evening. He was very upset and I asked him what happened.
“He told me ...uncle I want to go back. I don't want to stay here. I cannot handle the train journey from Andheri. I missed three trains because they were so crowded. I couldn't get inside, wasn't allowed to get inside. In the fourth train when I boarded, I was thrown out at Dadar station. Later at Bombay Central station.”
“So he reached at 5 in the evening. I called Yograj (former cricketer and Yuvraj's father) and he said, Yuvi you stay there because Mumbai will teach you cricket, how to be competitive and you will be a different player.
“That same evening I told players who were staying in Andheri like Ramesh Powar, who was slightly bigger than what he is today, and asked him to take him home safely. I then overheard their conversation,” Vengsarkar recalled.
“Ramesh told Yuvi the moment the train enters you need to push people out. When you get inside the train, just stand at one of the corners. The next day Yuvraj reached on time and said he used the technique told to him by Powar.
“He said ....today I boarded the train but there was one problem. The moment I got into the train, two people fell out from the other side on the platform. He travelled for a month or two,” Vengsarkar said.
Waingankar, who has been associated with Yuvraj's family since 1979, said that once Yuvraj returned from US following his treatment for cancer, he had asked him not to seek sympathy.
“When I spoke to him when he came back from America, I told him don't seek sympathy if you want to perform on the cricket field. You have to go out to that 22 yards and just perform. Cricket is a simple game don't complicate it.
“When I met him at CCI (Cricket Club of India during the warm-up game against England), I saw a distinct change in his approach. The youth had matured,” he said.
Waingankar said he did not agree with Yograj, a former fast bowler and hard-hitting lower order batsman, when he put enormous pressure on his son when Yuvraj was a boy to excel in cricket.
“Yuvraj was 12 years when his father used to bowl at him from 15 yards and it used to hurt him. Yograj used to say ...let it hurt. In future also you will have the ball hitting you and and you will have to bear it.
“I was very angry at Yograj. He said what I was unable to achieve, I want my son to achieve it. At that time I was not in agreement but today see where this boy has gone now. He is mentally tough. What he has done in the past one year after cancer is something amazing,” he said.
Yograj, who was at the event, said that the reporters should not remind about Yuvraj's fight with cancer.
An emotional Yograj narrated the incident when Yuvraj broke the news to him that he was afflicted with cancer.
“When Yuvraj got cancer, he called me from England to say that he was unwell. I told him you cannot die because the story is unfinished and you need to complete it,” he said.