Yuvraj Singh believes that an Indian player would have felt insecure and found no support if he had experienced the mental health issues that recently forced Glenn Maxwell to take a break from cricket. It is for this reason that Yuvraj feels the players “deserve” to form an association because Indian cricket has never listened to “player’s voice”.
Yuvraj is probably the first contemporary player to have voiced support for a players association. The former India allrounder who retired this June claimed players have already had to play “cricket we don’t want to” and that they only did it out of the fear of being “thrown out”.
“What I would like to see is a players’ association coming up because I think the player’s voice was never heard before,” Yuvraj was quoted as saying by PTI at an event in Mumbai. “So I think a players’ association that all other countries have, we should also have. We deserve it because there are a lot of times we have been asked to play cricket that we don’t want to. We have to play with the pressure that if we don’t play we will be thrown out.”
India and Pakistan are the only two countries without a players’ association for active cricketers and Yuvraj felt it was time for a change.
“That pressure has to go off the players that even if they are tired or fatigued or carrying injuries, they have to play,” he said. “That support should be given to the players. We see outside India if the players are fatigued and tired mentally, like is the case with Maxwell, he has taken a break because he is feeling it. Our players can’t do that because they fear they may lose their place.
“The current players need more [support]. Somebody has to stand up and give them the players association. I don’t know who’s 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, not only captain or vice-captain or senior players’. Every player should be asked about their opinions.”
The BCCI did recently approve the Indian Cricketers Association (ICA), meant to serve retired players (male and female). The ICA came into being at the recommendation of the RM Lodha Committee which said it cannot be or act as a trade union but can otherwise represent the interests of the players and look after their welfare.
Yuvraj is hopeful that with former India captain Sourav Ganguly recently taking charge as the BCCI president, he might be more open to the idea of a body for active cricketers. “Cricket from the administration point of view and cricketer’s point of view are two different things. Someone who has been a very successful captain will run cricket from a player’s point of view where cricketers’ concerns can be heard. It didn’t happen earlier. They [previous administrators] would make decisions and cricketers were not heard. Now he will listen to what cricketers want.”
Yuvraj also said the Indian team management and the selectors needed to be more supportive of the players. Recently, India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour was critical of Rishabh Pant’s approach and had said the youngster needed to understand the fine line between being fearless and careless.
While Yuvraj acknowledged selectors had a tough task, he didn’t shy away from saying their thinking wasn’t modern enough.
“We do need better selectors, for sure. Selectors’ job is not easy. Whenever they select 15 players, there will be talks that what will happen to the other 15. It’s a difficult job 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. By talking negatively about your players and team doesn’t show you in true 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.
“I am talking about team management and selectors only. Everybody has to be supportive towards the players. Jeet rahe hain toh hi yeh haal hai, haar rahe hon to kya hoga? [The team is winning, and still the situation is like this; don’t know what will happen if they start losing.] Here it is opposite. When you lose nobody tells you anything but when you win, people start talking. The support staff and the selectors need to be supportive of their players.”