Mithali Raj's explosive letter, on the controversial decision to bench her for India’s semi-final clash against England in the recently held ICC Women’s World Twenty20, has become the talk of the town since last one week.
Mithali, in a letter to the BCCI, had alleged that head coach Ramesh Powar was "out to destroy her" while the latter had accused the batswoman of being selfish and putting herself first over the team. Powar had also claimed that Mithali threatened to retire midway through the WWT20 after being denied the opening slot.
Reacting on this controversy, former India cricketer Madan Lal has said that sometimes in sports tough decisions have to be taken in the interest of the team and players should not take it personally. He also went on to say that Powar is not Mithali’s enemy and the veteran campaigner should work on her game to adjust in the T20 set up rather than engaging in mud-slinging.
“If you keep removing coaches, it would be better to keep a dummy, who listens and acts according to the players. Coach is part of the team and takes decisions which should be abided by the team. The coach (Powar) also wanted to win only and the captain (Harmanpreet Kaur) was also part of it. Why was Powar alone targeted? Selectors are also part of the decision. It was unnecessary to remove Powar. Like this, the game won’t move ahead,” Madan Lal quoted as saying by IANS.
Powar’s contract was not renewed by BCCI after the completion of his tenure on Friday (November 30). The former India off-spinner was appointed coach in August after Tushar Arothe quit owing to differences with the senior players over training methods.
Madan did not seem to be convinced with Mithali’s claims on Powar to keep her out of the team. Taking an example from the men’s team, he said: “If tomorrow Ravi Shastri makes someone sit out, will you remove him as well? Things do not work like this. They (coaches) too are under pressure. Performance is kept in mind, you do not make someone sit out randomly. I believe in performance, so the board should analyse.”
Commenting on Mithali’s e-mail to BCCI and her emotional rants in public domain, Madan Lal said: “No one is bigger than the game. Was there any guarantee that the Indian team would have reached final if Mithali Raj was in the playing XI. This is a team game, not an individual game. I always believe that the captain and the coach have the supreme authority. They had taken the decision after looking at the condition.”
“Once we start making the player bigger than the game, then these kinds of controversies arise. It is the call of the coach and captain. Sometimes, I do believe that an experienced player (Mithali Raj) should have played but they (coach and captain) must have taken the decision with prior thinking and analyses. So, sometimes the decision is good, sometimes the decision back fires,” he continued.
Powar, in his letter to BCCI, had said that the decision to push Mithali down the order was taken after due discussion with her but it still led to chaos.
“I hope Mithali stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and putting her interest first than the team. Before Pakistan match, video analyst Pushkar Sawant came to my room and said that fielding coach Biju George has conveyed to him that Mithali is upset with batting order and packed her bags with announcement of retirement in the morning. I was saddened by her attitude and it gave me an impression that Mithali Raj comes first and then India. She threw a lot of tantrums and created a lot of chaos,” Powar had written in his report to BCCI, as per PTI.
Madan Lal agreed with Powar’s explanation and said: “This is not a 50-over match, it is T20. If you waste 6-7 overs, then your team is already under pressure. I will go by the captain and the coach. Whatever decision they had taken must be in terms of the team, and there was the selector also. Sometimes in sports, you have to take a hard decision, which is in terms of the team only. Powar is not Mithali’s enemy, the player should think how can she adjust in the T20 game and how can she perform better.”
“I also do agree that she is an experienced player and should have played but looking at the condition, I will go with the coach, the captain and the selectors. They simply took a decision. Now that they have lost, a controversy has built up. If there are any differences between Powar and Mithali, the board has to sort it out. Sitting here I cannot comment about Mithali or Powar’s attitude,” he added.
“Team players have to look and make sure how to survive and grow. The decision (taken during World T20) can be wrong or could have been right. Had they won (the semi-final against England), people would have said the decision was good. Things don’t work like this. The controversy should not have arisen,” Madan Lal concluded.
(With IANS inputs)