Back in 1999, when 19-year-old Mithali started her international cricket career, women’s cricket could only be perceived as a hobby, and thinking of it as a profession was considered a thought way ahead of its time. Provided there was even the luxury of thinking of it. But 23 years later, when she announced her retirement, she did not leave an ordinary sport. As the line between women’s cricket and men’s cricket is thinning, the world must bow down to the legend who has played an indispensable role in making women’s cricket what it is today and laying the foundation for all the great heights it is bound to reach.
As this stalwart batter and a great captain decided to step down, a plethora of emotions and even some questions cloud the cricketing community. What will Indian cricket be like after Mithali Raj?
As Team India gears up for their first series post-Raj’s retirement, Harmanpreet Kaur is all set to lead India in all the formats. Kaur with an impressive captaincy record of winning four out of five ODIs and 39 T2OIs out of 66 will also be accompanied by Smriti Mandhana as the deputy. A new and interesting era in Indian cricket begins as India plays Sri Lanka in a white ball series starting June 23rd.
But going forward, Raj sure will be missed, and filling the shoes of this great player and captain will be a challenging task. Considering that the Indian team is a perfect balance of young talent and experienced players, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Indian cricket is in very safe hands and that what Mithali has left behind in terms of experience, temperament and cricket upskilling, the team is set to sharpen their best abilities. It will certainly be interesting to witness how the dressing room atmosphere evolves and how the new all-format skipper strategizes to bring out the best from every single player.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) June 8, 2022
The upcoming bilateral series between India and Sri Lanka will bring with it a new leadership style for Indian cricket and the curiosity of how things will unfold and how Indian cricket adjusts to this new pitch which will miss one of the greatest players to have ever played this esteemed sport.
India’s squad for T20I series against Sri Lanka
Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), S Meghna, Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Simran Bahadur, Richa Ghosh (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Jemimah Rodrigues, Radha Yadav
India’s squad for ODI series against Sri Lanka
Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), S Meghna, Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Simran Bahadur, Richa Ghosh (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Meghna Singh, Renuka Singh, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Harleen Deol
Lastly, “It is often said that where being successful is considered difficult by most, the opportunity is even higher” and if there is one person who has brought these words to life, it is Mithali Raj.
And about, what now? With sheer confidence,
“The legend has retired, but the legacy lives on”
Team Female cricket wishes the Indian team and Sri Lankan team all the very best for the upcoming series.
The 22 Yard stretch that molded me, is what I hold sacred. A cricketer weaving life’s innings into words. A Rohit Sharma Admirer always. I believe writing and cricket aren’t passions, but ways of life, so truly living the dream!