Yuvraj Singh retains the swagger of his playing days when he walks into the studios to promote the upcoming Abu Dhabi T10 league.
“That’s why people came to see me in Canada (T20 league),” he replies with nonchalance when asked if he is still a crowd-puller.
But less than five months since he quit international cricket, Yuvraj appears a bitter man. He refuses to take any question on Virat Kohli and quips, ‘ask your great selectors’ to a query on MS Dhoni’s future.
“It’s a difficult job (selection) but their thinking in terms of modern-day cricket is not up to the mark.
“It’s my opinion. I am always in favour of protecting the players and being positive about them. Talking negative about your players and team doesn’t show you in good light. The character only shows when things are going wrong and you motivate the players. In bad times, everyone talks bad. We definitely need better selectors,” he says.
The southpaw’s criticism of national selectors for messing up the No. 4 batting slot for the 50-over World Cup is well documented. Yuvraj hopes India’s preparations for the T20 World Cup next year are handled better.
“The preparation for next year’s World T20 should start now. You decide your team four months before the World Cup. You have to decide on your 20 players from which 16 will be picked. You can’t shuffle, pick and drop players at the last moment. World Cup is a serious tournament,” he says.
The selectors’ and the team management’s handling of Rishabh Pant, billed as Indian cricket’s next big thing has also come in for heavy criticism.
Yuvraj slams the current set-up for mishandling Pant’s Test as well as limited overs’ prospects.
“Him not playing the Test matches (vs South Africa) was not a great call. Somebody who has scored two international hundreds outside India and scored two nineties against West Indies, I don’t understand (his axing). His keeping could have been a concern but I think you got to groom your guys better,” he says.
Yuvraj calls Pant an opener who is trying to mould himself into a middle order batsman in white-ball cricket.
“He is a good No. 4, No. 5 but obviously people don’t realise that Rishabh was an opener. He always wanted to open the innings and he would go big, opening. He is not the guy who knows how to rotate strike and then go big. He is trying to do that. That’s why you need to give him time. He is not a middle-order batsman straightaway. He is changing his game, we got to give him some time,” he reiterates.
Disillusioned with the way he had to end his illustrious career, Yuvraj wants the current players to have a voice through a players’ association.
The Board has already set up an association for former players.
“The current players need the association more. Somebody has to stand up and give them the players’ association. I don’t know who is going to do that, but definitely that’s something I would like to see happening for the players. Every voice should be heard in players’ association, it should not be only the captain’s or vice-captain’s or other senior players’ voice,” he says.