Someone get a message across to Yuvraj Singh, please: the captain’s armband is not an uber cool accessory. It is not the ultimate chick magnet; nor is it a means to pump up your brand equity with the sponsors. It is rather a sign of the added responsibilities the wearer assumes — and it is conferred on those ready to assume those responsibilities and the hard work that goes with it.
Throughout season 2 of the IPL, Yuvraj was content to swan about as the captain while Sangakkara and Mahela ran the ship, both during the training sessions and on the field. Most times, he scrounged around at point with a distracted air, while the two Sri Lankans made the bowling changes, set the field, and did all that Yuvraj was supposed to do, but wouldn’t.
It was no wonder then that KXIP decided to officially confer the captaincy on Sangakkara this season, or that when the captain was benched for a game due to slow over rates, to have Mahela, not Yuvraj, stand in.
Yuvraj’s reaction has been to indulge in one massive sulk. One massive sulk too many, in fact. He has been lackluster throughout this series; yesterday, when for once his team looked somewhat competitive, his attitude contrasted oddly with the animation of his mates. For the entirety of the Mumbai Indians innings, Yuvraj strolled casually from position to position, displaying all the fervor of a misogynist at a sangeet.
It is not the first time, either — there was the earlier occasion when he felt he had been passed over for captaincy of the national ODI team, made some carping noises [aided and abetted by doting daddy] and generally stirred up bad blood.
“Attitude problems” is a diagnosis used too often in recent times, often with little or no basis. In the case of Yuvraj, though, that diagnosis is IMHO merited — and the treatment is a swift kick in the behind. The player has gotten too used to being considered a vital cog in the Indian limited overs and T20 machines — a fact that, he believes, gives him sufficient room to behave like a spoilt brat.
Maybe it did, till a couple of years ago. But maybe it is time for Yuvraj to look around him — at the half dozen or so young talents that are shining bright in the IPL arc lights. They’ve been batting better than Yuvraj and crucially, fielding way better than him to the point where Yuvi’s two USPs are no longer his to boast about.
When the batting bench was under-staffed, the Prince of Sulks could get away with riding his luck and playing the odd game-breaking innings once or twice a season to keep himself in the frame [when I brought up his name in a recent chat with friends, two of them were quick to go ‘Remember his six sixes?’]. That, I suspect, is a luxury he can no longer afford.
The question is, does he know it yet?