REUTERS - Yuvraj Singh, the outstanding player in India’s World Cup triumph at home last year, is certain he will return to the international side after battling cancer but will wait until he has fully recovered both physically and mentally.
The 30-year-old was told last year that he had a golf ball-sized non-malignant tumour. The diagnosis was changed in February to a cancerous condition called “mediastinal seminoma”.
After receiving treatment in the United States in mid-March, Yuvraj spent a few days in London recuperating from the side-effects of chemotherapy before returning to India on Monday.
“I don’t know what I will come back and be able to do. Getting back on the field will be a big achievement for me,” Yuvraj, who is currently bald following chemotherapy, told reporters at his academy near New Delhi on Wednesday.
”My body needs to recuperate, and to deal with all that pressure and to play for India again will be a very big achievement for me.
”As a sportsman you can only say, I‘m going to work hard... One thing I always think about is that I want to put the cap with the India logo back on my head.
“I can’t say what I will do when I come back, but I am sure I will come back to cricket. Hopefully, in a couple of months I will be in the right mental and physical frame to get back on the field.”
The hard-hitting middle-order batsman is not a regular member of India’s test team but is an automatic choice in their limited overs sides.
Yuvraj, the player of the tournament in India’s 50-over World Cup triumph last year, was also a main contributor in their 2007 World Twenty20 triumph, during which he hit England fast bowler Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in one match.
Yuvraj is happy to have survived the fight, one he termed “the toughest” in his life and said his health and not cricket was his current priority.
“At the moment it is very important that I look after my health, eat the best diet, have the best surroundings,” Yuvraj said during an hour-long news conference.
”The focus will be on my health, and what the priorities are with regards to my health rather than being emotional and saying ‘oh people want me back quickly’.
“I’ve gone through a very tough time, when I come back on the field I want it to be when I am absolutely fit, not to rush, even if it takes me an extra month. But I‘m sure that I will return.”
Wearing a pair of black sunglasses and a black round-neck T-shirt, Yuvraj sounded frustrated when he explained how it took him almost six months to know he had cancer.
“It was hard to believe that I had this illness. I am an athlete, I play through the day,” he said.
”It was a difficult time, it was difficultt to understand. It actually took six months to actually diagnose if I had cancer or some other problems.
“But I had to come out of it somehow. The cancer has gone from my body but the scars are yet to heal.”
He said he did not like watching cricket during the days he underwent treatment in the United States and spent time reading American cyclist Lance Armstrong’s 2000 autobiography ‘It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life’.
Armstrong is one of sport’s best-known cancer survivors and Yuvraj has often referred to him as his real life inspiration.
“Five-six years ago I was reading this book. I don’t know the reason why I had left it half-finished,” Yuvraj said, while taking occasional swigs of water.
“Maybe I had to come back to it this way and finish the book.”
Editing by John Mehaffey