Kolkata: Indian women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj despite earlier saying that the 2017 World Cup in London was her last, did not rule herself out of the 2021 World Cup and is very much interested in participating in the tournament provided form and fitness does not abandon her.
“I am not writing off playing the next World Cup but I will have to get through these next three years to get into the fourth year for that World Cup,” said Mithali in a chat with the Press Trust of India.
The women’s team does not play many matches in a season, with their next series in February. But they have become a household name after their incredible performance in the World Cup which they almost won before the heart-breaking loss to England by a mere 9 runs.
“It has been really busy since July but it feels nice to be appreciated and treated at par with men’s cricket. People want to know more about the lives of women cricketers. It was not the case back in 2005,” she said, referring to the World Cup final Indian women reached 12 years ago which many Indians were unaware about.
The Indian team next play the ICC ODI Championship against South Africa in February and Mithali confirmed that the Indian tigresses will start their preparation in December, followed by the three match series against South Africa starting from February 5.
“The domestic season starts in December and that will act as preparation for the South Africa tour. It will also be the beginning of getting back into the game for players after a three-month layoff,” she said.
The leading run scorer in One-Day internationals is also a part of BCCI’s special committee for women’s cricket which recently made headlines after making introducing India A tours for the women players. It also made the U-16 category a pan India affair in the domestic structure.
“With the introduction of India A tours, after the players get into the main national squad, there will be positions available in the A squad and the youngsters can get exposure and experience. Eventually they will become the second string,” said the 34-year-old also adding that the players from this team can always be a backup for the senior team in case of an injury and also help in building up a strong squad for the next World Cup.
The Cricket governing body has been using the limited overs format as a main tool to promote women’s cricket across the world, while Test has faded away into obscurity, but the Indian captain thinks otherwise. According to her, although the limited overs format has to be continued for the betterment of women’s cricket, Test matches should also be given a priority.
“To market women’s cricket, you need to have the limited overs format going on. People want to see fast-paced cricket. But as a player, I definitely want to include the Test matches. I believe that is still the truest form of cricket.”
“If you need to have a good foundation, Test format is the one where every player is challenged more than ODIs and T20s,” she concluded.
The Indian women would begin their campaign inthe second edition of the ICC Women’s ODI World Championship from 2017-2020 against South Africa and would play them in three matches from February 5-10 in round one of the competition.