Admire Her - Mithali Raj
Traditionally, cricket is regarded as a gentlemen’s game however there have been some massive developments in the game recently. Women’s cricket has been a hot topic of discussion today. People still think that women cannot play cricket but why not give them a chance to play such a beautiful sport. In India, women’s cricket is not promoted at all. People don’t watch it at all and even cricket lovers hardly know any names of players who represent the Indian Women’s cricket team.
Today I am going to talk about a player who fought against all such odds and is one of the finest woman’s cricketers India has produced. She is an inspiration to all young female cricketers who aspire to play for their country. She is Mithali Raj.
She was a sleepy girl in her childhood. Her father wanted to develop in her the habit to get up early, so he dragged her along to her brother's cricket coaching sessions in the mornings.
She would casually pick the bat on the ground and hit a dozen balls on the ground. Jyoti Prasad, who was the coach, was impressed and she asked her parents to enroll her daughter under the training of Sampath sir. Sampath sir saw the potential in Mithali and asked for the trust and blind support of her parents in him as he was convinced that he could make her play for India soon .
A coach is a very important person in sports and Mithali was lucky to get such a good coach in Sampath sir. He did not set the bar too low. He did not want Mithali to get lost in the academics maze and become an engineer or doctor due to the Indian mentality. He wanted to defy such mentality and to make her to become a professional cricketer.
He made her train like a racehorse. She missed many school trips and excursions .Her training got tougher and tougher. She practiced 6 hours a day. She sacrificed a lot of things for cricket. He made her train after sunset too at times as if she could see the ball well in the dark, imagine how well she could see the ball in the day. Mithali cried at times too after the training but if she had not trained so hard, she would not have played for India.
Unfortunately, her coach died in a motorcycle accident in 1997. Mithali lost an amazing coach who had shaped and influenced her life in a way she had not seen it coming. It was a huge setback.
Climbing the Stepping Stones
Mithali climbed all the stepping stones and played more and more cricket and performed better each day and fulfilled her dream of playing for India. Once she got into the team, it was hard to drop her. She was playing her heart out and her 214 runs against England in a test in 2002 cemented Mithali’s reputation as a formidable batsman. The senior players were awestruck by her confident stroke play. Her innings marked her coming of age. The knock catapulted her to another level.
By 2003 it was impossible to name an Indian XI without Mithali. She become the captain soon and has been a successful captain till today. Many young Indian cricketers like Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurthy find it as an honor to play with her. She has been a role model for many. She has made a name through cricket and if she can, anyone can. Impossible is just an excuse. It means that you lack the 3 Ds- Determination, Discipline and Dedication to reach where she is.
Watch an amazing video on her life- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KopDZsDQrE8&index=9&list=PLSD3kvJcuHFjdkoqH2Cw6AorXQaqtD5dw
Her parents made sacrifices for their daughter's career – her father passed up a promotion because it would have meant relocating to another city when Mithali was first named among the World Cup probables, and Leela quit her career as a manager at an optical products chain to take care of Mithali.
She has even won the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri.
Promote Women Cricket’s
This year my friend and I had gone to see the ICC World T20 in the stadium in Mumbai. Before the men’s tie, there was women’s semi-final. We had a combined ticket for both the semis- men’s and women’s semis so we went for both. To my surprise, during the women’s tie, the entire stadium was empty. On such a big occasion, it was heart breaking to see that no one wanted to watch the women’s tie and the stadium was full in the men’s semis.
So I would like to conclude by saying that we should promote women’s cricket. Think how you would feel if you are playing an important match and there are no spectators at all to watch to play on such a big stage. The spirit goes down. The enthusiasm goes down.
Cricket is a religion in India today and I don’t think we should discriminate between men and women in cricket. Just enjoy the sport.
In the words of poetess Brucellish K Sangma-
“I believe I can soar to the heights
Touch the silky clouds
and feel the stars
I believe I can dive
Right into the depths
and swim with the sharks”
Impossible is just a word which is not in the dictionary of this woman. They believe they can achieve anything and we too should believe that they can.