“The Test of My Life” is the autobiography of the well-known Indian batsman, Yuvraj Singh.
This book serves as an inspiration. Yuvi writes about his love for cricket and his battle against cancer.
Read about his struggles as he grows from an avid cricketer to getting into Team India. Yuvi acquired cancer later on in his career.
In this book, you will learn about how he defeated cancer and returned to cricket. He wrote a book and even started a foundation called YOUWECAN for cancer patients. YOUWECAN provides free check-ups and spreads awareness about the fatal disease.
If you’re a fan of cricket or just anyone who wants to read an inspiring story, this book should definitely be on your list.
All the Way to India
As a kid, I loved sports of all kinds. I used to look forward to recess and Physical Training. I absolutely hated all the other subjects. I always get low scores. My friend, Aanchal, used to help me with my studies. Yet, my scores kept dropping.
There was one time when I was batting with my friends. I accidentally hit a man riding on his scooter. The ball hit him hard, and he fell down. The man really got annoyed. He stood up and then ran after all of us. I remember this as my earliest cricket memory.
My father thought it was a good idea to send me to Yadavindra Public School. Navjot Singh Sidhu, a famous batsman, used to practise at Maharani Club. My father took me there one day.
He asked Sidhu to watch me bat. After watching me play, Sidhu turned to my father and told him that I wasn’t meant for cricket. My father is not easily discouraged, though. He is determined to put me on the national team. He never gave up on me.
One early morning, my father wanted me to start practising. It was a chilly day. I stayed in bed, and I pretended not to hear him. My father came up to my room and poured a whole bucket of freezing water on my face. This made me extremely furious.
On days when I scored well, I felt that my father is right about his ambition of making me a great cricketer. I felt that cricket could give me the freedom I wanted.
My parent’s marriage was not working out. My younger brother, Zorawar, is eight years younger than me. While I found sanctuary in cricket, I felt that Zorawar was pushed in a corner. My mother would often stay away to fix the marriage issues. This made me feel uneasy as she was my support system.
My father was very strict about cricket. He continued to drill me in my teenage years. Once, while playing in a Ranji practice match, I got out at 39. Father learned about it and got angry. He told me not to come home, or he would kill me.
I slept in my car, which was parked outside the house. When I came home the next morning, Father saw me and threw a glass of milk on my face.
At another time, I misfielded because of a stress fracture in my back. I went home that night and found out that Father ripped out the sound system of my car. Constant negative comments from my older teammates made things more difficult.
Finally, I scored a hundred for the Ranji Trophy. My father called me and asked how the game went. I proudly told him that I scored a century. But my father asked me “Why didn’t you score two hundred?”
I felt despair. Father called again just to inform me that he took my car keys and hid them somewhere.
After this, I went on to play in the U-19 World Cup wherein I became Player of the Tournament. That is how I got drafted to the Indian national team.
In my first match, I scored 84 and became the Man of the Match.
When I received my first paycheck, I bought a house for my mother.
The Top-of-the-World Cup
The 2011 World Cup was an epic adventure. In our game against England, I found it impossible to turn my head. It was a neck problem which started with a sprain in 2010. The MRI showed a disc bulge.
Nitin Patel, our physiotherapist, was called in to unlock my neck, but it was still stiff. I was to bat at number 4. While I played two balls, I felt my neck start to unlock. My success was unstoppable after that. I consistently played well for my team.
Sachin Tendulkar had a huge influence over me. I consider it my biggest achievement that I have been his teammate. Before playing the World Cup, Sachin told me to play the tournament for someone I loved or respected. His motivating words always helped me and our teammates to be determined.
While having dinner in Mexico with the team, one of the fans came up to Ravinder Jadeja and shouted at him. The fan screamed, “How could you lose?” This was followed by abusive language.
The argument got ugly. This incident made it to the news. We were branded as overpaid and irresponsible players. After this incident, I was dropped off from the team. In July, I was selected to play against Sri Lanka.
Just before the World Cup, I selected two bats. I marked one as World Cup No.1 and the other as World Cup No. 2. I played with the bat marked one against South Africa. While leaving for Dhaka, I couldn’t find the bat marked 2. I didn’t know that my mother had asked someone to bring the bat to her in Chandigarh.
Mother took the bat to a Sangat so that Babaji could bless it. There were plenty of people in the gathering. When Babaji saw it, he exclaimed, “This in Yuvi’s bat!” He knew that it was the bat I would use for the World Cup. Babaji encouraged everyone to bless it.
My mother came in time for the Bangalore match. She gave me bat no. 2 back. I felt lucky. In the World Cup, I scored a total of 352 runs, including four 50s and a century.
‘C’ Change: from Cricket to Cancer
One of my most trusted people in the health business is Jatin Chaudhry. He is an acupuncture specialist and a physiotherapist. I first met him when I had a tear on my left knee back in 2006. During a shoulder injury in 2008, my trust in Jatin grew more.
When I learned about my tumour, I valued Jatin’s therapy and opinion far more than others.
Because of my coughing, I was advised by Dr Kohli to get an X-ray done. As I was leaving, Jatin stopped me and told me to check the X-ray plates. The doctor was frowning, and Jatin looked worried. I could see a white blur. The doctor advised me to take an FNAC test.
The next day I also got a CT scan done. I received a call from Dr Kohli after. He said that he had bad news to tell me. There is a tumour in my lungs. Dr Kohli told me that it could be malignant and cancerous.
My Mom was in Gurudwara. Jatin informed her about my health. When mother and I finally saw each other, she looked at me and started crying. I also informed all of my close friends.
Dr Parmeswaran asked me to get admitted to a hospital immediately.
My body was rejecting everything I ate and drank. Meanwhile, Puma asked me for a date to shoot with Bolt, Alonso and Aguero. It was for an endorsement deal I signed earlier.
Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter. Fernando Alonso is a Spanish race car driver. Sergio Aguero is a footballer from Argentina. I gave Puma the date of around January 2012 when I thought I’d be free.
But I found out about my cancer, and I told Puma about it. They didn’t bail out from the deal. They just told me that I could take the time to get better. But I had to keep my promise.
So I went for the shoot and there we had to run on a treadmill. Alonso autographed a cap for me. It was the one I wore when watching his races. I didn’t get the chance to meet Bolt, though. He shot his part and left. Bolt is a cricket-fan, and I would have loved to speak to him.
Getting to meet and work with the world-famous athletes took my mind off about the tumour in my lungs. But whenever I am clearing my throat, I coughed blood.
As an athlete, I was always trained to deny pain. I remember Anil Kumble, a legendary cricketer, who played with a fractured jaw versus the West Indies.
The Test of My Life
I flew to London to meet Dr Harper. He told me I needed four cycles of chemotherapy. He told me I’d lose my hair, but it would grow back. A last-minute change of plans brought me to Indianapolis.
Dr Einhorn is going to treat me there. He had treated Lance Armstrong before. Lance is an American racing cyclist who was also diagnosed with cancer.
I told Dr Harper about the change of plans and apologised to him. Dr Harper told me I would receive the same treatment in London. But he admitted that if his son had cancer, he would send him to Dr Einhorn.
Dr Einhorn is an expert. He told me that after three cycles within two months, I could walk out like a man who never had cancer.
I asked him if I could father a child after chemotherapy. Dr Einhorn answered that chemotherapy used to decrease fertility rate by 60%. But now, it’s only 10% less. It means I still have hope.
I read Lance Armstrong’s book “It’s Not About the Bike”. When I first read it, I thought it was depressing. But I read the book again and learned that Armstrong went to a sperm bank. He got his sperm preserved, and he had three children later. That is even if Lance had testicular cancer.
As my chemotherapy began, I felt a loss of appetite. I cannot sleep. I took videos of myself and kept a diary. Around this time, the news of my health reached the media in India. It turns out two people I trusted told the media about my health.
One of them was an Indian journalist who used my BlackBerry updates to deliver his news scoop. The second was Jatin Chaudhry. He went to a news channel and said everything he knew. After the news outbreak, I received well-wishes from fans, kids, and even actors. I decided to address people through Twitter.
During this time, I played video games and surfed the web. My mother used to buy groceries and cook for me. After day 15, I woke up to see hair fall on my bed. I decided to go bald and shaved my head. I clicked a picture and posted it on Twitter.
Nishant, my manager, told me that Anil Kumble was in Boston and that he wanted to visit. I thought it wouldn’t happen, but Anil kept his word.
He told me to stop watching my old cricket videos on YouTube. He assured me that cricket would come back to my life one day. Anil asked me to focus on my recovery instead.
At the time of the third cycle, Dr Einhorn told me there would be no chemotherapy that day. After looking at the results, he said that the tumour was gone. Only scarring tissue was left.
Dr Einhorn decided to change the drug schedule. The last cycle was now only going to be five days. Suddenly I felt I could sing, laugh and do anything I wanted to!
Taking Guard Again
Sachin was the first person to come and meet me after my treatment. He hugged me tight and comforted me.
Dr Einhorn told me I needed to stay for ten more days in recovery. I could not get up, and I felt suicidal.
Soon, I was back in India. I walked into my house in Gurgaon. I saw a man, and he shook my hand. I told the man that I couldn’t recognise him. It turned out that he is my lawyer. Short-term memory loss was an after-effect of chemotherapy.
On my flight back, the Jet Airways crew was friendly and generous. They were surprised to see me, but they remained professional. In the middle of their duties, the crew managed to make a card for me. It was signed by all of them. It said: “Welcome home, Yuvi. Get Well Soon.”
Once, I went to the mall and stopped at an Indian cafe. People recognised me and started approaching. They all came to give me their best wishes and prayers. Strangers even gave me packets of food and told me they ordered it for me. I felt overwhelmed.
When I returned home, I told my mother about what happened in the Indian Cafe. She smiled and said that she knew people would support me.
I saw Zorawer, my brother. It felt like a weight was off my shoulders. He managed to live alone without Mom and me for so long. I travelled to Chandigarh and met my gurujis. Everywhere I go, I found people who were supportive and kind to me.
I went for a ten-day holiday with my friends before beginning serious training. We went to Spain. We drove, chilled in the pool, and went out for dinners.
When I came back to India, I noticed that I had gained weight. I was already at 103 kilos. Now it was time for me to start training and get back on the field.
The Battle for Confidence
One day at home, I went out on the terrace. To my surprise, I saw a peacock. There are many superstitions around it. Some are bad omens, and some are good. I called my Mom to join me. But I heard her shout downstairs “Selection, selection”. Apparently, she received the news that I made it to the Indian team for the World T20.
My endurance level had dropped, and my cardio-vascular strength was almost zero. The team trainers helped me to get back into shape. They were told to forget that I had cancer and treat me like any other regular boy who had not worked out in six months.
The training was hard, and there were times I questioned myself if I could ever return to International Cricket. The BCCI or Board of Control for Cricket in India had taken utmost care of me. They ensured my privacy, paid for my expenses, kept my progress in check, and gave me every opportunity to return to the field.
At training, I was scared of being hit by the ball and getting injured. We first started practice with tennis balls and later moved to the cricket ball.
My selection for the T-20 squad went viral over the news, and the comments were emotional. My practice of three months and determination was fruitful. However, I didn’t like my selection to be seen as a charity.
I landed in Visakhapatnam for my first match. Everyone who saw me, my teammates, the bus driver and the children in the streets, wanted to shake my hands.
Ravi Shastri wanted to do a live interview with me. I could see banners that said “Goodbye Cancer, Welcome Sixer.” I walked around the stadium, and the crowd stood up, cheering and clapping for me.
It was raining heavily that day, and the field was wet. Because of that, the match was postponed. It crushed me. My friends and family had travelled from distant places just to watch me play.
The night before that, I emailed Dr Einhorn and thanked him for saving my life.
The match was scheduled again four days later. We won the toss against New Zealand and chose to field. New Zealand put up a very good score because of Brendon McCullum. We lost the match by one run. But I had bowled two overs for 14 and scored 32 off 24 balls which included four and two sixes.
We won the match against Pakistan by one run, but we were knocked out of the tournament. I was declared ‘Player of the Match’.
A lot has changed since my battle against cancer. I used to be devoted only to the game. I never paid attention to my health.
I decided to start a cancer-charity and called it YOUWECAN. After retiring from cricket, I will work for YOUWECAN as a full-time job. I want to raise funds and save people lives.
I am thankful for all that life has given me, my friends, my family and cricket. If I fall, I know that I’ll always stand up again and continue to fight.
This book is filled with stories that give inspiration, courage, determination and heroism.
You read about Yuvi’s early life and his love for sports. You read about his determination towards cricket and how he worked tirelessly to get into Team India.
This book further explores Yuvi’s life within the Indian Cricket Team and how he discovered he had cancer. You also read about his experiences with cancer, how he battled it and came out victorious.
This book serves as a motivation for anyone who is struggling with various challenges in their lives.