Former Indian women's ODI and Test captain Mithali Raj spoke about the evolution of women's cricket in the current generation and the improvement in the quality of performances from the Indian women's cricketers.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with the International Cricket Council (ICC) ahead of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Raj explained how women's cricket was now being viewed by millions around the world on their fingertips, unlike the time when she started her career.
Raj explained how her world record of 214 runs in Test cricket, the highest individual score then surpassing Karen Rolton's 209*, went unnoticed at the start of her career when she was only 19 years of age. But Raj was quick to express her happiness on the current state of women's cricket and how each achievement, no matter how small, was being acknowledged by fans all around the world.
"A lot has changed since I was playing in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. The biggest difference is people are now aware of what’s going on with their national team. When I broke the world record for the highest individual Test score in 2002, people didn’t know about it unless they were going out to buy the newspapers."
"Back in my day, we only had male players as inspiration because that’s all we used to see on the television. Today a young girl can have a role model in the form of a female cricketer and I think that’s the biggest chance I have seen."
She also remembered the heartbreaking loss to England in the 2017 WC final but stated that the women's game was being watched by more people now as compared to three years earlier.
"I am very excited for this ICC T20 Women’s World Cup. The coverage and the reach of women’s cricket has grown so much since when I played in the 50-over World Cup in 2017, which is what is making it more popular."
Talking about the blockbuster opening T20 WC match between Australia Women and India Women, Raj accepted the hosts being the favourites to lift the title at home considering their talented and versatile squad, but also explained that how this was the most open WC in many years and countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh were in as contenders as well.
"Of course, they weren’t in a World Cup format but these glimpses show that the gap is closing. I think Australia go in favourites but we can’t push every other team aside. Teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh can compete too."Published 20 Feb 2020, 15:14 IST