India Women’s ODI captain Mithali Raj, who is regarded as one of the greatest female cricketers in the world, has set his sights on winning the upcoming ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021 in New Zealand to finish her glorious international career on a blaze of glory.
In the last couple of years, India came very close to winning the World Cup, but missed out closely on lifting the coveted trophy twice as the eves reached the 2017 World Cup final but lost to hosts England and then knocked out in the semifinals of the T20 World Cup in 2018 under Mithali.
Even this year, Indian women’s cricket team yet again failed to bring the T20 World Cup home, losing the high-pressure final to the hosts Australia in March 2020 at Melbourne.
Well, Mithali is now solely focused on winning the World Cup 2021 while revealing that she would have retired in 2017 if India had won the World Cup in England. She also recalled her disappointment in 2013 when the tournament was held in India and they could not even qualify for the super-six stage.
Raj said on Star Sports 1 Telugu show Girl Power-Sarileru Manakevvaru: “In 2013, when India hosted the world cup, we didn’t even qualify for the super six stages. I was hurt and quite disappointed. I thought let me give a try in the 2017 World Cup. Then I really worked hard for that World Cup.”
She further added, “As a player, as a captain, I did a lot of homework. I thought when we were in the finals if we win the finals, and then I will retire. After playing for so many years, probably I had everything, except that one World Cup. In 2021 again I am going to give another try, hopefully with everybody’s wishes and God willing we should crack it.”
Meanwhile, the 37-year-old revealed that she wanted to become an IAS officer before cricket became a part of her life, saying she didn’t choose to get into cricket, but it happened to her.
She explained, “Honestly cricket happened to me. It didn’t come by choice. I didn’t choose to get into cricket. You can see, my teammates, those who have different stories, as they played with their brothers, and some of them were inspired by their brothers. They played in the streets. But (for me) it was nothing like that.
My dad took me to the academy there whatever transpired, and I was straight away into a full-fledged academy for girls. I was too young to make a choice. If at that time somebody could ask a 10-year-old Mithali, what you want to become, I would have said that I wanted to become an IAS officer. Not a sportsperson, not a dancer. I always felt I had it in me to be an IAS officer.”
Mithali felt women’s cricket should have come under the aegis of the BCCI much earlier than it actually happened in 2006-07 as the Women's cricket was governed by the Women's Cricket Association of India until 2006, saying it would have given more financial security to the players and they don't have to leave the game at the age of 23 or 24.
She further noted, “Women’s cricket came under BCCI at the time of 2006-07. I feel if it had happened five years before, it would have been better. Many talented players at that time, because of lack of money, lack of financial stability through this game, they had to shift to different fields. After turning 23-24, parents will ask what is next? So, being a women cricketer what can you tell parents?”
Raj signed off by saying, “I don’t earn money, I am playing for passion? Nobody will buy it. Because of that reason, a lot of talented people had to let go of their profession (cricket). So, at that time if BCCI was there, they would have added an extended career and we would have more pool of players in women’s cricket.”
(With Star Sports Inputs)