Mithali Raj reveals she chose cricket over dance
What's the story?
Indian captain Mithali Raj recently spoke about the life-changing decision that she made when she had to choose between her potential career choices, cricket and dance. She chose the cricket willow and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Two things fascinated me early in my career: classical dance and cricket. It was a difficult choice to make but I preferred cricket and I honestly have no regrets now,” the 34-year-old revealed in a conversation with The Hindu.
The 34-year-old has been India's premium batter for almost two decades now. She made her debut for India in 1999 and said that there were next to no facilities for women cricketers back then.
“We had a tough time to even play practice matches. Women’s cricket was not a priority. Things have definitely changed now, especially after BCCI took over women’s cricket in 2006. There are assured national championships and the players have gained some respect and identity," she added.
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The Indian team had an excellent campaign under Raj in the ICC Women's World Cup, which was hosted in England this year. They reached the final of the tournament and lost to the hosts by a whisker.
However, the team surpassed all expectations and managed to come out on top of the toughest encounters with the biggest teams through the length of the tournament.
The female cricketers received a lot of attention and admiration from the fans back home. In fact, they are still being felicitated across various parts of the country for their inspired performance in the World Cup.
When asked about the effect of the final on women's cricket, Raj stated that the future of the game looks bright indeed. However, she also said that it is important to complement the euphoria around the final with solid measures in the right direction.
She also emphasized on the importance of thinking small at the beginning. Furthering this point, the Indian skipper gave an example of establishing multiple inter-school tournaments across states so as to ensure the grooming of young talent in the country.
Raj is now in the twilight of her career and has declared that this World Cup was her last. She might play for a couple of years after this and Indian cricket should look to take the best out of her in this time.
She will still bring a lot of experience to the table and her knowledge of the game will be invaluable in mentoring the youngsters of the team. In short, the right-hander is still as crucial to the team's success as she was a decade ago, if not more!
The Indian skipper is an absolute legend of the sport and has been the flag-bearer of Indian women's cricket for as long as one can remember. She has inspired more and more girls to take up cricket as a genuine career option and has put India on the global map in women's cricket.
Hence, we can conclude by saying that the 34-year-old picking the cricket bat over the Bharatnatyam ghungroos was more of a blessing for the country than it was for her!