Mithali Raj opens up for life after retirement and her rich legacy | Cricket News

Former Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj said goodbye to cricket last week after a 23-year cricket career. She has stopped being the leading run-scorer in international women’s cricket. Apart from her “Bradman-like” contribution to women’s cricket, she will be remembered for everything she did to bring women’s play into the mainstream in India. Mithali spoke exclusively to techlives. Here is an excerpt

Rica: Mithali, for half your life you’ve been in camps packing your bags. Has it sunk in that there are things you may not need to do anymore?

Mithali: I think my routine has definitely changed. I do not have to get up early in the morning now and plan my day or plan a week or plan the preparation for the next series. In that sense, yes, life has slowed down a bit and there is time for many many other things I could not pursue when I started playing cricket.

Rica: Do you have any plans to return to Bharatnatyam?

Mithali: I do not know, I might just try it, but at the moment I did not really think much about going back to dance. It’s been a very long time since I switched from dance to cricket, but when it comes to reading, sketching, these are certain things I’ve really enjoyed over the years, but have never been able to get much time to invest in those things. not. So maybe I will try to take them up as a hobby.

Rica: Mithali, at what point did you think it’s the right time to start a 23 year career? Was it after the defeat in New Zealand?

Mithali: No, when it came to my retirement, I was very clear a few years back that the World Cup would be my swan song. There were a few interviews in which I already mentioned it.

I had to deal with the emotion of disappointing the last match in the World Cup. And I did not want to make any decision when I was overwhelmed, especially not such a big one. I had to take time to deal with it. Then I went to the T20 domestic tournament. I felt like I did not have the kind of intention and passion that has gone to the ground with all these years. I’ve never missed homework, but this time I just did not feel the right kind of emotion to go on the ground. I did not play household and I felt it was time to make my retirement official. But, it was there in my mind for a few years. It was just a matter of accepting it and dealing with it, and then making it official.

Rica: Now that you’ve finished your career, if you were to sit down and watch your innings, which of the games would you like to watch again.

Mithali: I think all those important innings might be those in the 2017 World Cup. I had some very good turns. In the 2009 World Cup, I remember 40 odd runs made against Australia, a match-winning one. It’s just a pity I did not have some of my best turns, because at the time it was not broadcast on television, so we did not even have videos about it. But yeah, those are the few turns I would love to watch.

Rica: Mithali, in the mountain of your one-day records. What’s lost is your 214 in Test cricket – the highest score by a female Test cricketer. Do you have recordings of it?

Mithali: I do not have a recording of it, it’s just the memories I carry, and a bit of what my own teammates, who have been around, tell me. We therefore remember it from their perspective. They tell me how they found my innings, so that is, what is there about the 214 beat.

Rica: What amazes me time and time again about you is that you played more cricket than Sachin Tendulkar, on average almost as much as Dhoni in one-day matches, your winning percentage as captain is more than Sourav Ganguly. Let me ask you what are your favorite Mithali Raj stats?

Mithali: You just asked me a question I was not prepared for. I think 7000 odd runs in one-day matches would be a good one.

Rica: And you have a total of 10,000 international runs. Taking India to the 2017 World Cup final held in England must have been special. Emotions ran high when you went out for that throw to gentlemen. Can you guide us through the feelings of that day?

Mithali: In 2017, we created a buzz in India from the first game. In England we were not much aware of the reactions at home. This was because social media was very new at the time and I am not someone who is very, actively or addicted to social media. So at the time, even I did not know much about getting on Twitter. We played well, when we reached the final, we thought we had another opportunity to make the sport popular in India.

In 2013, the World Cup that India hosted before this one, we did not qualify for superses. When we reached the finals of the 2017 World Cup, I told the girls I think we have a chance to make the sport big in our country. But then I knew that most of them had never been part of the 2005 World Cup. It was the first final and all of them were nervous. For me, it was a different experience. I walked into a crowded stadium at Lord’s for a throw.

I’ve played a lot, but not as crowded as it was that day, and the kind of euphoria you create when you shout at people and you know when those drums are beating. I always wanted to play once in my life. You know, when I started, I wanted to feel that atmosphere and I felt it in the 2017 World Cup.

Rica: It was a chicken meat moment. Would you say it was one of the turning points for Indian women’s cricket?

Mithali: It was definitely one of the most important curves in women’s cricket overall. Even worldwide I would say, the number of viewers and the following of events thereafter has increased. It helped the sport move forward.

Rica: Mithali, what do you think will be the next biggest turning point for women’s cricket in India? Would it be to win that ICC trophy or the IPL for women?

Mithali: I think a World Cup trophy in any format, whether it is T20 or one day, is what all Indian cricketers work for. We know one ICC event trophy can do wonders for the sport. You know, even if we’re just a step away, it’s made a big impact.

I think what will definitely change things is the beginning of women’s IPL. It can help build a strong pool of players. This may take a few more years. I would not say from the beginning myself you know that the first year women’s IPL will be like, you know, helping the team. But maybe in 2-3 years from the start of the IPLK for women we will see a lot of potential players because every challenger trophy has seen like Shefali, Kiran. Once women’s IPL starts, you may come across more such stories and see how men’s IPL has helped in the growth of men’s cricket in our country. I am sure it will similarly drive the growth of women’s cricket in our country.

Rica: To talk a little more about your career Mithali, I’ve seen you from the time you started 2005 to 2015. Those years were spent in indifference and perhaps even desperation at times. What did it cost you to motivate yourself?

Mithali: There are two factors. When you wear the jersey, when you play for India, you can not think of putting in less than your 100%. So it has always motivated me. I know there are so many people’s expectations, so many people’s wishes support me. There are so many people who have played a role in shaping me as a cricketer and I can not let them down.


I cherish millions of hopes when I represent India at great events. So for that, if I have to live up to those expectations, I have to be nothing less than my 100% every time I take the field. This was one of the biggest motivating factors. I have never believed in mediocrity and it has also always encouraged me to work harder.

Rica: If there’s one word I can describe in the way you leave Indian cricket is healthy. Do you have a word or a sentence for it? I mean, you know, a lot of people have talked about your legacy.

Mithali: I think I’m happy from where I started to where I left the sport.

Yesterday one of them asked me what would be your legacy? I’ve never had the right answer to that, but I can say that you know when I first started, the way I was introduced to the sport was in an exclusive boys’ camp where I was the only girl. Then I had to change camp because they did not want to take girls and the same camp. Today we have about 60 to 80 girls enrolling each year and it was not uncommon for a girl to carry an instant bag in those days. But in today’s time it is very common. People have accepted it and it is now common to see girls playing cricket in the streets. Every academy enrolls girls. There are no exclusive boys or exclusive girls, but every academy likes to enroll girls and train them. So I think I leave the sport in a good space and I’m very positive that you know it will only grow from here to a brighter space.

Rica: I know you leave a very happy dressing room behind. Now let me ask you this. Is there a young man in the current Indian dressing room who embodies Mithali Raj’s energy?

Mithali: Well, they are not. They are of this generation. They are not like me. The moment they take a picture they are already posting it on social media and I am two days late. So they say “didi yaar monkey let dalte ho, tag to karo,” (you post these posts so late, tag us at least). Some of them literally pull the handset off of me and they post on my behalf and mark themselves. So they can not be me, they can not be like me. But yeah, I try to be like them.

Rica: Well, it’s a very cute thing to say that you’re trying to be like them. Your Life Story will soon be in theaters, played by Tapsee Pannu. What is the best tip you have given her? Did you ask her to perfect the cover drive?

Mithali: When she was practicing, I was busy with my international commitments. So I could not really help her in her training. But I think more than helping her, I just put pressure on her by telling her, better get your game right, get the cover drive right. All of them are going to be watching you. Maybe I added more pressure on her. But I think she did a very good job. She is a very hard working actor. I am confident and positive that she will fulfill this role.

Topics mentioned in this article

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button