When India take on New Zealand at Visakhapatnam on September 8th, 2012 in the first of two T20 matches, the sporting world will rejoice. Not for cricketing reasons, and not because this series holds any sort of significance whatsoever. Because let’s face it- India playing at Home is nothing more than glorified net practice.
The sporting world and its kin, East and West, North to South, will celebrate the return of one of their own. It is very easy for a writer to hype this up as a return of a man from the clutches of death and all that jazz- but this word must still strike a chord deep inside the boy we’re talking about.
Yuvraj Singh will return after a long layoff. It has been 14 months since he last took the ground for battle, and ever since, he has been playing his most important against-all-odds innings yet. This has nothing to do with cricket anymore.
The boy beats Cancer, he comes back. The last time that happened to a high-profile athlete, we all know how it ended. Or ending, as we speak. In disgrace. Not in the right way. For a legacy was tarnished. Forever.
But what Armstrong did right was, through it all, he inspired- even if it was through half truth and plenty of fiction- an entire generation of lesser athletes to overcome insurmountable odds. He inspired humans to look fear in the eye and smirk at it. He inspired them by just getting back on the saddle.
Yuvraj Singh spent all of his recovery time in the States, after his operation. He shut himself out of the world he once ruled, only months ago. He stooped, he crouched, and quietly accepted mortality. He felt his body being ravaged, and torn apart.
But this was all part of the plan.
This was part of a grand scheme- a piece of destiny that firmly established this young, brash boy right at the top of the Indian cricketing table. Forget his achievements on the field. He struggled to deal with fame temporarily, but overcame it. He was India’s greatest player in the biggest tournaments, and managed to maintain that reputation. If it wasn’t tough enough, being in the spotlight the year around, he had to now fight his most personal battle, in the most public country in the world.
After all this, as an emotional people, we all agree that he deserves to walk into a team that he helped build. He may not have played any first class cricket, or even a full match, but he can’t be faulted for lack of trying. He doesn’t need to prove himself time and again, atleast not after he left the team as their best all-rounder.
Like an eager child, he has been posting the countdown of his return on twitter, awaiting a return that could once never have been possible. He has recovereD physically, remarkably well, and now- just by taking the field on September 8th, he willcement himself as more than just a sportsman.
He will be a legend, irrespective of what he does on or off the field after that. And every player, spectator, commentator and official surrounding him, on this day, will know that they’re part of something special. They’re part of a world that can be witness, first hand, to the endurance of human spirit.
And not for the first time, this spirit is purely Indian.