Rediff.com  » Cricket » 'Mithali is a legend, no doubt about it'

'Mithali is a legend, no doubt about it'

By HARISH KOTIAN
Last updated on: June 09, 2022 18:42 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'Her work ethic, disciple, dedication, determination and hunger to score runs for herself and for the team makes her stand out from the rest.'

IMAGE: Mithali Raj during her double century in the second Test against England in Taunton, August 16, 2002. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
 

Former India women's coach Tushar Arothe hails Mithali Raj as a legend of women's cricket, saying she will be remembered as a player who always stood up for the team's cause.

Mithali, 39, announced her retirement from international cricket on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, ending an illustrious 23-year career.

Mithali, who made her India debut as a 16 year old in 1999 in an ODI against Ireland, scored 7,805 runs, which include seven hundreds, from 232 matches at an average of 50 -- finishing as the leading scorer in women's ODIs.

She also captained India to two World Cup finals in 2005 and 2017.

Mithali also made an impact in Test cricket, scoring 699 runs which include a career-best 214 against England at Taunton in 2002.

Speaking to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian, Arothe salutes Mithali's amazing consistency and says he was lucky to work as a coach with her.

IMAGE: Mithali Raj with Tushar Arothe. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

"Mithali's retirement is a big loss for women's cricket. But every good thing has to end some day. Even greats like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar had to quit. The game is bigger than any individual.

Obviously, it will create a big vacuum in the Indian team because it is hard to replace someone like Mithali.

Mithali is a legend, there is no doubt about it. Her work ethic, disciple, dedication, determination and hunger to score runs for herself and for the team makes her stand out from the rest.

Her performances speaks for itself. Just check her superb record across all formats.

I was lucky to work with Mithali. She is such a down to earth person and despite being such a big player she is ready to listen to everyone.

People -- especially young players -- used to look up to her, how she projects herself on and off the field, how she prepares for a game and all that.

All the youngsters who came into the team got a chance to learn so much from her. They were lucky to share the dressing room with a great player like her.

Her work ethic and discipline was fantastic.

When I was the India coach, I observed that she was ready to listen to everyone. I remember one incident when we were playing against Pakistan in the 2017 World Cup. Any game against Pakistan is a bigger match than a World Cup final for all Indians.

We were bowled out for 169 after electing to bat first. Just before we were going into field, I told her, "Mithu, can we have spinner Ekta Bisht bowl with the new ball instead of Shikha Pandey?" I felt we needed to do something different.

Both fast bowlers were doing good, but my reasoning was that Pakistan were prepared to play pacers Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey at the start, so this will be a surprise move for them and she agreed immediately.

Bisht started with a wicket in the first over, and took two more wickets in her first spell. Left-arm spinners get the ball to turn away generally, but Bisht was darting the ball in and the Pakistan batters could not cope with her.

She went on to take five wickets and we bowled out them for 74 for a memorable win.

IMAGE: Mithali Raj's tally of 7,805 runs, which include seven hundreds, from 232 matches makes her the leading scorer in women's ODIs. She led India to the World Cup finals in 2005 and 2017. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Another incident I want to share is when I wanted to Mithali to bat higher up the order during that World Cup. I kept telling her all through the World Cup that she should bat at No 3 instead of No 4 where she batted most of her career.

One day after we came back from practice, I told her to meet me over coffee. I asked her, "Mithu, why is your conversion rate so low?" and she replied: "Sir, I am not getting enough chances."

That is when I told her she is not getting enough chances because at No 4 she is going to bat after the 25th or the 30th over. I explained that the best batter should play the maximum number of overs for the team and asked her to move to No 3.

I told her if a wicket falls early before the fifth over, we can send someone else, otherwise I want you to bat at No 3 and play maximum number of overs.

And that move worked. She scored a fifty against Australia and followed it up with a century against New Zealand.

She was ready to do anything for the team's cause. She always stood up for the cause of her team.

There is no doubt that Mithali is a legend of women's cricket. She is one of the greatest cricketers in the history of cricket.

In her 23-year career, her performances speaks for itself. Just check the various records she has created over the years.

Maintaining an average of over 50 in ODIs over two decades is not easy, so that shows her impact on women's cricket.

She maintained that consistency right through her career. She hit two fifties in her last three games in the World Cup in March.

Mithali was a very cool person off the field, she was very knowledgeable. She planned everything so well, took her time, she was not rushed into anything.

She was well behaved on and off the field. Whether it was the fans or the journalists, she never disrespected anyone. That is why everyone loves Mithali so much.

I thought she would play at least one domestic match in India and after that she will retire. But it is her decision, no one can tell her when to retire. She knows what is best for herself and her career.

We should all respect the decision she has taken and celebrate her great cricketing career.

I was in touch with her. This retirement may have come as surprise for others, but not for me. She hinted about retirement a phone call with me, but I didn't want to disclose it to anyone.

It is up to the BCCI how to best utilise Mithali's experience and expertise. I am sure the BCCI will find some deserving post for a legend like her because I am sure she will work towards development of women's cricket in India."

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

INDIA TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2022

INDIA TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2022