On the eve of your 39th birthday, I take this opportunity to write a letter to you, from a purely cricketing connoisseur’s perspective. First of all a very happy birthday to you and I wish you all the health and happiness in the years to come.
Playing a demanding sport such as cricket for over the last 22 years is by no means an easy feat. Your presence for 22+ years on those 22 yards of strips has been a spectators’ delight and has done a world of good not only to women’s cricket in India but also to the entire world of women’s cricket. There was a time when women cricketers, when asked about their role models, would name men cricketers, but today, things have certainly changed. Mithali Raj has become a household name. Advertently or inadvertently, you have become the role model of millions of girls, who play the sport across the world.
Over the years, the way you have carried yourself with grace and poise has been commendable. There is seldom any doubt that you have had your own share of ebbs and flows, but every time you were met with one, you either ducked well or smashed it, like you do, while playing your classical cover drive.
Scoring tons and tons of runs and breaking records has almost become your second nature. However, what every Indian fan is eagerly waiting for is that ICC World Cup trophy, which came pretty close to you in 2005 and 2017, but just eluded at the wrong time. The next few months will be crucial since the Indian team under your able aegis will be preparing for the mega event.
Lastly, before I close, I would like to draw parallels with men’s cricket. I know you are not too fond of this, but if I can take the liberty just once, I would like to believe that just as the Indian men’s cricket team lifted the World Cup in 2011, which was the last World Cup of Sachin Tendulkar, leading run-getter in men’s cricket, it is my wishful thinking, that the 2022 World Cup, which could be perhaps your last one (though I and of course all your fans would want you to continue playing cricket as long as you can), India wins it for you, the leading run-getter in women’s cricket. Whenever there are talks about the 2022 World Cup, I can’t stop from imagining the girls of the Indian team lifting you and dedicating the coveted championship to you for your selfless service over the last 22 years.
P.S. Can’t wait to catch the first glimpse of Shabaash Mithu that releases on February 4, 2022.
Your Ardent Fan,
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.