The Women’s Cricket World Cup this year broke many barriers. While the myth was being busted in terms of the enjoyment of watching women in action, it also opened up to the possibility of this tournament being the launch-pad to take women’s cricket to the next level.
One of the players to have come into the limelight was Indian captain, Mithali Raj. A veteran of over 15 years was carrying the pressure of a billion people but remained as cool as ice. That’s what experience does to you. Doesn’t matter which sport, doesn’t matter what gender. But Mithali Raj showed a coolness that didn’t seem to exist before on a cricket field.
Right from her outright answers to a sexist question by a journalist, to her reading a book in the dug-out, all strapped up and ready to go, Mithali Raj has made quite some statements since.
Sportswallah caught up with Mithali Raj, trying to find out what goes on in that brilliantly, gifted, nerveless mind of hers.
Tarun – How has life after World Cup changed?
Mithali – It’s busy, chaotic, every step is been scrutinized but over all the attention women’s cricket received after the World Cup campaign is welcomed.
Tarun – Even though it’s been many months since it’s happened but what was your initial reaction to your ‘book reading’ images in the World Cup going out viral on social media?
Mithali – Book reading is a habit I developed years back.. never imagined it would create the reaction it did during World Cup. Was surprised though and it’s one question I’m asked everywhere I go.
Tarun – What’s your opinion about the rise in popularity of women cricket? Will it sustain or will it take a platform like World Cup to bloom once in four years?
Mithali – Popularity and the interest in people largely will depend on how much of women’s cricket is televised and a number of matches played in the coming days. It’s important to have continuity going to keep the interest of people.
Tarun – What’s your take on the Big Bash League, now that there are more Indian cricketers signed up to play. Would you consider playing in overseas T20 leagues?
Mithali – Big Bash League has done well for women’s cricket in Australia also it has helped players from other countries to get exposure by being part of a league like that interacting with players from different countries. Right now I believe I should invest in mentoring and motivate young players in our domestic circuit as well in the Indian team so they can absorb the pressures of modern day Cricket.
Tarun – Now, trying to understand the captain in you, if someone plays a bad shot at a critical point, how do you address the issue? Do you deal with that person individually or how?
Mithali – That’s the coaches look out to see the technique of a player and how he can be of help…we have team meetings to discuss the strategies. As a captain, I work on planning and times when a player needs backing and if I feel I can help a player with my experience I do that.
Tarun – What’s your take on the Women IPL that the IPL Governing Council that were discussed on October 24th? You were the 1st to propose the idea.
Mithali – I believe an IPL kind-of league in India for women’s cricket will definitely enhance the popularity of the sport but you need that many players and also include it itinerary so it doesn’t clash with the international calendars of the other teams so we have international in the players at good attendance to display the best brand of cricket for viewers and people to watch.
The league will also narrow the gap between domestic and international standard giving opportunities to develop stronger second string team but the decision rest o BCCI. As a player, I see lots of positivity of holding a league of that stature.
Tarun – With a new film being made on the Indian Women’s cricket team, the director claims he won’t mind if some real life cricketers appear in his film. Have you been approached yet?
Mithali – No, I haven’t been approached.
Tarun – What is life after cricket for Mithali Raj?
Mithali – I don’t know. I go with the flow.