Mithali Raj, the India veteran who retired from Twenty20 Internationals this month, has said every effort should be made to ensure more stories like Thailand’s – they qualified for their maiden ICC Women’s T20 World Cup earlier in September – come about in the sport.
In a glorious career, Mithali has broken plenty of records in all formats – she is the only female cricketer to cross the 6000 mark in ODIs – and has seen the game change in many ways since she made her debut in 1999. In that time, many new forces have risen in women’s cricket, Thailand being the latest after they secured qualification for the big event in Australia next year.
“I think the top teams have been doing well, whether it is Australia, England, New Zealand, India or South Africa. But we need to have more teams participating in the ICC events. Like this year, Thailand is going to play their first ICC event [in Australia next year],” Mithali said.
“So teams like that need to be encouraged. We need to give them more exposure. That is something we need to do more to spread women’s cricket around the world. People from countries other than the cricket-loving ones should be able to come forward and accept the sport as a profession. That is something we need to work on,” she said.
Asked to pick the highlight of her T20I career, she cited the 2-1 series win in Australia in 2016 as the “defining moment” for the team. “Winning the T20 series in Australia, beating Australia in 2016, is the highlight. Because until then, we ourselves didn’t believe that we are a decent T20 team. And that series win against Australia imbibed a lot of confidence into the team,” she added.