Mithali Raj is basking in the limelight following the great performance in the World Cup in England. In an exclusive chat, the 34-year-old Indian skipper shares a few thoughts on the game.
How significant is the recent World Cup campaign in the context of women’s cricket in India?
The standards set by our girls in England was something really special and heart-warming. This World Cup was different as regards setting new benchmarks by the players.
How do you rate Harmanpreet Kaur’s century against Australia in the semifinals?
It will be remembered for long. A knock that was a reminder of the improved standards of women’s cricket.
What pleased you the most after the World Cup?
The kind of respect, recognition and the warmth with which we were received on our return. It was truly remarkable and something we never expected.
Why is it that in team sports women have to struggle more to get institutional support than in individual events?
I look at it this way. In a team sport, you need more players whereas in an individual sport even if there are two they can form a combine and do well. Even if you do well in a team sport and is given a job, your institution should have a team or else you cannot perform. That is why individual sportspersons are better off. I don’t crib about this. And, also in a team sport, even if one comes up with a brilliant individual performance and the team still loses, that gets overshadowed.
After the great success of the World Cup, should the ICC revive the bid to have cricket included in the Olympics?
Honestly, I have never given a thought to this. But, given the kind of aura an Olympic medal has, I would love to win one.
Your evolution as a batsman and a captain.
It is like gaining new experience after every game and each series and helping you to mould as a better player than ever before. I always believed in being a better batter than a captain. There were many who were critical of my captaincy, though my captaincy has come in for lots of appreciation in the recent World Cup. But again, captaincy has something to do with the team. I have grown up as a batter through the years and would love to be more consistent.
How do you feel about the word ‘batsman’ while referring to women? Do we need a gender-neutral word for this and for other aspects of cricket? For example, it’s called a gentleman’s game.
I think it is more because of habit than anything else. I don’t think there is any gender bias. Yes, I would like the word ‘batter’ to be used more prominently than ‘batsman’. Maybe, we should also stop calling cricket as a gentleman’s game as more and more women are playing the game across the world with aplomb now.