Yuvraj Singh is labelled as confident and aggressive on-field, cocky and laid-back, off-the field. How exactly is the real Yuvraj?
I am exactly all those things. I take my game seriously and have to show confidence and aggressiveness on-field as the game requires that. When I am not playing cricket, I am a super laid-back person—I love watching movies, chilling at home, hanging out with friends and going on holidays with family. I also like reading books—The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and The Secret are my favourites—it is one of the best ways to unwind and relax.
Doesn't the pressure of performance affect you personally?
I am a cricketer… that is my job. And that job comes with a price; it always gets into my personal life. But over the years, I have reconciled the fact that being a cricketer comes with a lot of responsibility. I have learnt to deal with it and not let it affect my personal life.
Similarly, do you also manage to keep your emotions in check when you are on the field? [we're referring to the Flintoff episode]
The Flintoff incident was because he made me angry and I decided to tell him off by performing with the bat. I am glad that he got the message when I hit a six for each of his six balls in an over.
I try not to get my emotions involved in the game; cricket is a mind game and emotions can ruin that sometimes. However, we are all human and sometimes our emotions do take over us.
So does your heart guide you or your mind?
My mind; there are many things my heart desires, but I have to make sure that they are right for me. So, my mind always makes my decisions. And I have a very strong mind. When I decide that I want to do something, I make sure it happens. For instance, when I decided to be a cricketer, I set my mind to it and put in my 100 per cent.
Is your body equally strong? What do you do to maintain your fitness levels?
For me, physical fitness is crucial, as I have to maintain my stamina to run on field. For that, I exercise at least for 30 minutes every day—it could be running or swimming or weight training [thrice a week]. I also am careful about what I eat on a daily basis.
Does that mean you have to make a lot of compromises in your food habits?
Not necessarily; I eat whatever I want, but in moderation. Eggs, chicken—in fact, any form of protein—forms a large part of my diet, as it helps in muscle strengthening. Having said that, I also include carbs in my diet, as they too play a key role in an athlete's life due to the energy they provide.
Does it also help you cope with injury?
When you are injured, physical rest is the most important thing, as your body needs time to recover. It is also important to be happy mentally as that makes your mind stronger for recovery. Along with the medical treatment and rest, I always find that being at home and spending time with friends and family always helps recover faster.
Moving on…you had said in an interview that you "learnt a lot about life" during your Vengsarkar academy days. What were the lessons?
Yes I had said that. At that time I used to travel by the local trains in Mumbai and that's where I learnt how hard life is for some people. I also learnt that each one of us has his/her own struggles in life… it taught me to appreciate the good that I have in my life and I always thank God for that.
Coming back to your game… you get high praise for playing well and a good thrashing when you don't. How do you handle such opposite reactions?
I have learnt to ignore them. I don't take either the praise or the thrashing very seriously. At the end of the day, my game is what matters the most. I just have to continue focussing on my game and let my game talk for itself. If I let the trash talk get to me, I won't be able to concentrate on my game.
But the outcome must be affecting you to some extent…
Cricket is a religion in India and the country has a lot of expectations from cricketers. So, when I don't play well, I do feel like I have let a lot of people down. But at the end of the day, even I am a human being just like everybody else and only capable of so much.
Still, I try my best to stay mentally strong to keep doing my best; that is all I can count on.
Is that how you tackle tough times?
When I am going through my rough phases, my family and friends help me in staying mentally strong. Especially my mother—she is my biggest support system. I turn to her for everything. She has been my greatest strength so far.
What about the rest of your family?
It is during rough times in life that you realise the importance of family. My family members have always supported me for everything I have done. I get my inspiration from them.
But your dad didn't support your passion for skating…
I was so young that I didn't understand fully what I was getting into. Things just started happening for me with cricket and I leant to enjoy the game with time. When I look back now, I thank my father for pushing me so hard to become a cricketer. If not for him, we wouldn't be having this conversation…[laughs]
A bit about your other relationships…
We all have are our relationships; you learn so much from all kinds of relationships and I give great importance to having good relations with everyone.
Your advice to readers of Complete Wellbeing?
Tomorrow is a new day, let yesterday go and look ahead.
- Your role model… Sachin Tendulkar
- Three most important relationships… mother, father and my Guruji
- Favourite cuisine… Chinese
- Favourite place in the world… New Zealand
- Favourite sport… Cricket, of course
- Favourite hobby… watching movies
- Life is… short, so make the most of it
- Fitness is… a way of life
- Happiest moment so far… six sixes in six balls
- Saddest moment so far… when I had to give up skating as a child
This was first published in the issue April 2010 of Complete Wellbeing.