Veteran Team India batter Mithali Raj has recently announced her retirement after having played for over two decades. She has broken several records and made many as well. She is the highest run-getter in the 50-over format and the only Indian captain to lead the team in the ODI World Cup final twice as well. However, she recently opened up about her future plans.
“I would love to (be in administration) if that comes my way, knowing the sort of experience I have had over the years. Being a player, seeing the different phases maybe yeah, I can use my experience to good use,” the former captain said to India Today . “You can have a woman in a certain position because women understand women’s cricket much better. I would say that because they have been over the years part of the team and fraternity. Like how Belinda Clark has got her experience to shape Cricket Australia or for that matter Clare Connor has done a great job with ECB. If given opportunities, I’m sure women can be efficient in jobs that they can do for women’s cricket in administration.”
However, no other player has come in the vicinity of her 71 fifty-plus scores in ODIs so far. The most capped player in women’s international cricket has finished with 10,868 runs across all three formats (333 matches). The total length of her ODI career (22 years and 274 days) is the longest career span for a player in the ODI format among both men and women as well.
“I have just announced my retirement, so maybe you can give me a few more days (to think about future plans). If I can enjoy my holidays without even thinking about what I have to plan for the future maybe for the very first time in years. Let’s see, because I think it is such a good phase for women cricketers after retirement, there are so many avenues now. Let’s see what excites me, but I’m definitely looking forward to be involved with the sport, that’s for sure, but in what capacity, let’s see as time progresses,” she said.
Apart from playing for India in 232 ODIs, 89 T20Is and 12 Tests, Mithali featured in three editions of the Women’s T20 Challenge. The BCCI introduced the tournament in 2018 with a one-off exhibition match and expanded it to a three-team event in 2019. The Women’s T20 Challenge’s next two editions in 2020 and 2022 took place with three matches followed by a final.
“We can definitely start (WIPL) with maybe 5-6 teams because, unless and until you give them an opportunity like Shafali is a find of Women’s Challenge and Kiran (Navgire) is a find of the recent one. So, I’m sure you will find many talented players. Unless you give them that platform, we will never know if they have it in them. So, I think we can definitely feed in around 5-6 teams. The biggest example will be to look at men’s IPL, what it has done over the years to where men’s cricket is today. The amount of talent you get to see in every game. At one point it shocked me to see so many talented players and am not even talking about the capped players. So, I’m sure that will happen for women. Am hoping a similar thing will happen to women’s cricket once women’s IPL starts next year,” Mithali Raj said.
“When you start something new or when you have a dream, the dream will be tested. There will be challenges, if there is no challenge you will never grow. So, if there are challenges, accept the challenges, work hard and be very focused in your path towards your dream. One has to prioritise their dream or goal over everything else and at some point, you will get closer to your goals,” Mithali Raj concluded.