Watching this particular World Cup is entirely pleasurable, for it is entirely pain-free, and that is cause for enormous poignancy.
On a completely related note, the prince retired the other day. Not the Prince of Kalkoota, as Mr. Boycott would have it, but the prince whose very name was prince. Yuvi has hung up his boots, and now only Dhoni remains.
You see, the point is, there was a point of time, some years ago, when watching a match was cause for butterflies in the tummy. Lots of ‘em, positively millions of ‘em. There would be a dryness in the throat, sweating of the palms, hunched shoulders, and to borrow a phrase from another sport, it was cricket, bloody hell.
This team, the one that we have in England right now, is the best ever one day side we have assembled in our entire history. There isn’t a weak link, at least on paper. One of the best fielding sides ever, firepower for as long as the eye can see, and easily the best bowling line-up – both in our history, and in the world at the moment. Fact. Not for nothing are we the favorites to win the World Cup for the third time.
But there is missing a certain je ne sais quoi.
When Sachin and Sourav walked out to bat, or when Sehwag threw away his wicket for the umpteenth time, or when the smile that masqueraded as a left arm fast bowler from Delhi swung it in Durban – and on many other occasions besides, one lived, breathed and died with the team.
When Kaif rocked it at Lord’s, when Sachin scored that century in Hyderabad in 2009 (and we still lost!), when Dravid and Laxman worked the miracle of Kolkata, when Laxman and Ojha danced on the edge of the precipice in Mohali – I can go on and on, but on each of these occasions and many more like them, we were palpably nervous.
And Yuvraj was responsible for so many of these moments.
Nairobi, of course, as also those catches in Sri Lanka. His role in the chase at Lords, his innings during the tri-series in Australia, the six sixes in South Africa, that photo of he hugging and picking up Sachin after the Chennai test – and every single match in the 2011 World Cup.
He had his flaws, and he had his failures, but Yuvraj was, for his entire career, truly a prince among men.
And with the new cricketers there’s excitement, and there’s admiration (bucketfuls of it – this is not to detract from this team: really and truly magnificent), but there isn’t anymore a painful sense of nervousness. One supports them, one watches the matches, and one hopes they’ll get the cup home. But the butterflies? Gone forever.
And so not for the career, and the shots and the fielding, Yuvraj Singh. Thank you, instead, for being one of the last people to get the butterflies along for the party. They, and you, will be missed. Sorely.
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime