“An activity which was used to impart the habit of waking up early turned into a profession”.
Mithali says in one of her interviews that since she wasn’t an early riser, her father enrolled her into a cricket club and that’s how the journey started.
So before talking about her cricket journey let’s roll our eyes on the early days of her life! Mithali Raj was born on 3rd December 1982 in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in a Tamil family. Her father named Dorai Raj who was an Airman and mother Leela Raj was a homemaker. She did her schooling from Keyes High School and later went to Kasturba Gandhi Junior College for Women.
From the Cricket Club to the World Cup!
She started to play at the age of 10 years in a cricket club along with her brother. She says, initially it was more for curiosity and fun because she was the only girl playing in that club. Therefore, she used to get a lot of preference to bat or ball. Eventually, she started playing for Railways in domestic competitions with luminaries like Purnima Rau, Anjum Chopra, and Anju Jain for Air India.
Soon her game was being identified and she came upon the limelight. Many big opportunities knocked on her door and Mithali never missed any!
- 1997- She was just 14 years and her name was amongst the probable in the Women’s Cricket World Cup. However, she couldn’t make it to the final team.
- 1999 – One-day international debut against Ireland and she scored 114 runs.
- 2001 – Test debut against South Africa at Lucknow, she was out for a Duck.
- 2002 – Made a record of the world’s highest individual test score by scoring 214 runs against England at Country Ground, Taunton.
- 2005 – Led the first women’s world cup final in 2005 in South Africa, where they found Australia too strong for them. She said she was devastated initially and thought India would never make it again to the final. However, they made it in 2017.
- 2006 – Led first-ever test and series victory in England and sheltered up the year winning Asia cup.
- 2013 – The women’s world cup was hosted by India and the final match happened to be at Mumbai. Mithali scored 150 runs, but India could not reach the finals.
- 2017 – Mithali became the second player to score 5500 runs in WODI’s after Charlotte Edward. And later that year she was a record-breaker scoring 6,000 runs in WODIs and marked her name at the top.
- 2017- Led world cup for the third time. This time they again managed to reach the finals, but the team lost to England by nine runs.
Hard work paid off!
In an interview, Mithali talked about the initial days of Indian women’s cricket. When it was so hard to arrange finances. There was a time when her dad or she had to go and find sponsors.
But yes, hard work always pays off, and here are some of the returns that she achieved!
- Highest individual score – She is the only Woman Cricketer to score 91 not out off 104 deliveries in WorldCup, owning the tag of the highest individual score.
- Lady Tendulkar of Indian Women’s cricket – Mithali is an all-time leading run-scorer for India in all formats, including Tests, T20Is, and ODIs.
- Arjuna Award – She was honored for her outstanding performance in sports in the year 2003.
- Most consecutive player – She owns the record for playing 109 WODI’s for the team.
- Padma Shri – Honoured with India’s fourth-highest civilian award in 2015.
- 2017 Awards – Mithali was awarded consecutively for four awards in the year 2017 for her performance namely Youth Sports Icon of Excellence Award, Vogue Sportsperson of the year, BBC 100 Women, Wisden Leading women cricketer in the world.
Everything was finally on track, but then!
“It is worrying and insulting because the coach was out to destroy and humiliate me, I could not control my tears after giving it all after 20 years”
These were the words quoted by Mithali in a letter to BCCI accusing the coach Ramesh Powar. On the other hand, Powar criticized that Mithali had threatened to retire from the game when asked to play down the batting order. Additionally, he said Mithali was ‘blackmailing and pressurizing coaches’ and causing division in the team during the recently concluded World T20.
This led to a frenzy situation for the team, later in 2019 she retired from T20I cricket.
Achieving everything you desire demands a lot of patience and dedication. By going through her journey I realized it took her more than 20 years on the cricket ground and 204 ODI’s to speak on behalf of the Women’s cricket team.
So if you have the same passion and dedication to play, let’s connect. – Fancy11