What are your emotions as you call curtains on a long career?
I am absolutely content. No hard feelings. It’s almost 19 years since I have been playing international cricket and I don’t think I have it in me to play more at international level and to compete. So yeah, this was it for me.
You were one of the first athletic cricketers in India. How much has thrust on fitness evolved over the last two decades?
A lot of athleticism has come into the game. A lot of natural athletes have come to the fore. The emphasis on fitness and fielding has increased with cricket having been expanded into three formats. If you are not a good fielder or you are not fit, guys who are less talented but fitter get their opportunity sometimes. There is a lot of focus on fielding now.
Cricket is primarily a skill-based sport, how critical is it to strike the right balance with regard to fitness?
You need to see a balance. Certain players will provide you skill-sets, certain players will provide you athleticism in the park. You have to balance that and have the best side. You can’t just say fit guys will play or guys who have skill-set but are not that fit will not play. At the end of the day, you have to score runs, get those wickets and save those runs. If you do that, you will win the game, so you have to strike the balance.
The glorious milestones aside, can you point out a couple of innings that may not have come in a big final but have given you great satisfaction?
There have been a lot of crucial knocks. If you look at Test cricket, all three hundreds have come when India were 60-odd for 4. Then me and Sachin (Tendulkar) had that great partnership against England (in Chennai in December 2008). Among the other crucial knocks, the 57 versus Australia in the World Cup quarterfinal was critical in terms of pressure and environment. Also the 70 (off 30 balls) against Australia in the World T20 semifinal (in 2007 in Durban) was extremely satisfying.
How would you want Yuvraj Singh, the cricketer, to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a team man, somebody who gave it all for his team and put the team first. And somebody who was always up for a challenge. Always there to fight till the end and never give up.
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