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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Navjot Singh Sidhu returns to first love: Back in commentary box after decade this Indian Premier League

After a decade-long stint in the unforgiving world of politics, Sidhu and his 'Sidhuisms' will be back on air starting with the IPL, which precedes the T20 World Cup in June

PTI New Delhi Published 19.03.24, 01:41 PM
Navjot Singh Sidhu

Navjot Singh Sidhu File photo

Set to be back in the commentary box after a decade with the upcoming IPL, flamboyant former India cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu says the glitzy league would help decide the T20 World Cup squad of not just India but also other countries.

After a decade-long stint in the unforgiving world of politics, Sidhu and his 'Sidhuisms' will be back on air starting with the IPL, which precedes the T20 World Cup in June.

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"The IPL will set the tone for the World Cup. There is no other cricket happening. The eyes of the world are on IPL. This is where you can snatch a berth for the T20 World Cup, not only Indians, even the foreign players," Sidhu told PTI in an interview facilitated by the IPL's official TV broadcaster 'Star Sports'.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who have not played a lot of T20 cricket since the 2022 edition, are expected to be on the flight to USA and Caribbean for the ICC showpiece.

Do the veteran batters still add value to the T20 squad? "They will be needed there. These are giants of cricketing world. Form is like the morning dew, it can elude you but class of these people has stamp of authority.

"I would rate Kohli as the greatest Indian batsmen for the simple reason, his fitness, he is getting fitter with age like old wine does. Technically very sound and he has the uncanny knack of adapting to all three formats, same goes for Rohit," Sidhu explained in his inimitable style.

"Both are quality players. I am not sure about Rohit's fitness levels. With age you tend to slow down, your reflexes tend to go. Sehwag with those glasses, his reflexes were not the same, I saw it in the IPL." Sidhu closely tracked India's campaign in the ODI World Cup last year where the hosts ended as runners-up after being the sole unbeaten side in the group stages. The final loss extended their long wait for a world title but Sidhu isn't too concerned.

"In the recent World Cup they were playing very well, they just had one bad game, one bad game cannot asses the fortunes of a team. I see the Indian team ruling the roost for a long time because the system that breeds cricketers is very congenial and conducive.

"In my time, people would carry on despite bad form because there were no replacements. Now, Hardik Pandya is replacing the Indian captain as captain at Mumbai Indians because he has performed so well.

"Not that it is derogatory to Rohit but it is just a thought process. The old order must change yielding place to the new," said Sidhu.

There are multiple options for wicket-keeper batter's slot in the World Cup squad with likes of Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, and K L Rahul in the race.

Sidhu said he would go with someone who has superior keeping skills with his batting prowess being "secondary".

Will take to commentary like fish to water ========================== It has been a while since the 60-year-old held the mic but three days from his "first" commentary comeback, the former India opener was as gung-ho as ever.

"Boss, cricket is my first love. If your hobby becomes your profession there is nothing better than that. A duckling would never forget how to swim, I will take to commentary like a fish takes to water," .

Asked if the sense of humour kept him going during the turbulent phases of his life, Sidhu said, "Secret of my life is that is I switch on and switch off. It was difficult for me to switch off from politics but then the age of miracles has not passed. The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little while longer.

"The mental fortitude will sail me through any situation now. In cricket, I have made 20 odd comebacks, this is my first comeback to commentary. I was in the swing of things from 1999 to 2014-15 (commentary).

"A gem cannot be polished without friction nor a man perfected without trials," Sidhu went on, the way only he can.

In the early years of the IPL, Sidhu provided the X factor to the commentary box and the stupendous success behind the mic made him a prominent face in the entertainment world where he was paid handsomely to appear on a comedy shows.

The money was a lot more than what he could make as an established India cricketer but Sidhu said he was never in it for the big bucks.

"I left cricket and joined commentary and I did not know if this is something I could do. I was not very confident (initially) but 10-15 days into the World Cup, the word Sidhuism came up. I was walking in a lane no one was walking. It was the lane of Sidhuism.

"From Rs 60-70 lakh for the the whole tournament, I was taking Rs 25 lakh per day in IPL. The satisfaction was not with money, the satisfaction was that time would fly. It was beautiful."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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