Mithali Raj deserves to be taken seriously in the standoff with Ramesh Powar
In a player-coach conflict, the player should always get the benefit of doubt. That's particularly so if the player happens to be one of the greats of the game and still has a lot to contribute to the national team as a player.
The women’s World T20 controversy has snowballed into a much larger conflict than it initially seemed. With Mithali Raj finally opening up with her side of the story, it is time to look at the seriousness of her allegation against the newly appointed coach.
Of course, we don't want to sit in judgment as to who is right or wrong in this case. We have not heard of the other side of the story from Powar, and for all we know he may have some shockers up his sleeve too. There could even be an enquiry into the whole case.
But whether it was due to non-cricketing reasons, as has been hinted at by Mithali Raj, or for cricketing reasons, that reflected a clear failure to read the match situation and the pitch, her exclusion from the semi-final match was a horrible blunder. Though the captain Harmanpreet Kaur too was a party to the decision, it is quite clear now that Powar had a major role in the eventual decision to drop Raj from the playing XI.
Nevertheless, until we know more, it is more important to stand by the side of Raj, a player who still has a lot to offer in all formats of the game, especially in Tests and ODIs. A coach can be replaced, but a player of Mithali Raj’s calibre, who is at the height of her cricketing prowess, cannot.
If in a player-coach conflict the player is clearly on the wrong, then that is a different issue. But this particular case is a unique one. The player in question is not just a legend, but she also has an impeccable record as an outstanding ambassador of the game in a country long dominated by men’s cricket.
Moreover, she is in very good form and has the ability to serve the country creditably in the foreseeable future. Keeping these factors in mind, it would probably be a good idea for the BCCI to step in and express solidarity with Raj.
Let an impartial enquiry take place. But until its results are out, Mithali Raj must be given all the help she needs at this dark hour of her illustrious career. She has done her country proud through her achievements on the field and the maturity with which she has conducted herself off it, and deserves all the support she can get.Published 27 Nov 2018, 20:40 IST