Dubai: Harbhajan Singh, one of India’s greatest off-spinners, wants everyone to counter the threat from COVID-19 by adhering to the principles of cricket.
Speaking to Gulf News from Mumbai, Harbhajan said: “My message to everyone is — don’t get caught, don’t get run out, stay on the crease, and don’t step out. A very big spinner in the form of coronavirus is out there. So take on the challenge with patience. Only if you are patient can you play long innings in your life and score many things, like one can score runs in cricket.”
Harbhajan’s talent is not limited to the cricket field as he also writes and performs his own poetry. He has urged everyone to use their imagination to do creative things during this challenging time. In 2018, Harbhajan even brought out an album titled ‘Meri Maa’ (‘My Mother’), which was a huge hit.
“Do something productive every day and don’t sit idle,” he urged. “There is no point sitting and thinking of all that is happening outside and getting worried. I do yoga, cook, work out, and remain active. We need to understand that things out there are beyond your control, but we can surely control what is within us. What I mean is — control the controllable and look to do innovative things — and allow everything to settle down without getting impatient. Let us keep our minds away from negative thoughts and exercise daily, because when muscles breathe they produce positivity. It is because of this that when you play a sport you forget everything.”
When asked whether cricket would resume soon, Harbhajan candidly said: “Cricket will not happen for a while and the Indian Premier League (IPL) will not happen this year. No one had any idea about the severity of this virus when it began to spread. Now it is clear that it is not like the flu or a cold, and that it can spread very fast from one person to thousands.”
Harbhajan also believes that plans to resume sports should not be shelved and is not particularly supportive of staging cricket events without spectators. “To stage cricket or any sports events without spectators is not appropriate. For example, for a cricket event to be held without spectators, there have to be at least 300 people to supervise the television coverage, and they all have to sit next to each other. Coaches and players must be present and also interact with each other. In short, at least 500 people will have to come together in a stadium. Over and above this, hotel accommodation for everyone is needed, cooks and room boys are also required to facilitate everything. When matches happen, fans could assemble in restaurants and pubs to watch the action. So all of this is risky.”
Harbhajan called for patience from every sports lover. “Right now the priority should not be to start sporting activities but ensure that all our kith and kin get adequate help. This is the time to focus on ensuring that no one goes hungry. Everything will take a long time to settle,” said Harbhajan.