Personal likes or dislikes don’t matter when you’re playing for the country, Mithali Raj, captain of India’s Test and ODI, said on Sunday, insisting that she and head coach Ramesh Powar have “come through” a bitter past to bring the team forward.
Mithali and Co. are currently under quarantine in Mumbai ahead of the UK tour, which is expected to provide a major boost to the team’s preparations for the ODI World Cup in New Zealand early next year.
The full series comprising India’s first test in seven years will also be Powar’s first assignment as head coach. The former Indian player returned to the job after being fired following India’s semi-final defeat at the 2018 T20 World Cup.
Mithali was controversially removed from that game and relations between the two went south and the two accused each other of unprofessional conduct.
When asked if his past will get in the way of his present and future, Mithali told PTI: “… we cannot be living in the past.”
“I have played for so many years, I have no ego or I don’t pay attention to my personal likes and dislikes. I have never done that.”
“And 21 years has been a long time for me, you know, to go through a lot of challenges. When it comes to playing for India, it’s like serving your country, so personal issues, I don’t really give any weight (to those), ”he said.
The 38-year-old has been a torch bearer of women’s cricket for more than two decades and does not like to carry luggage.
“You have to think about the big picture. This is how I am. There are so many things that have happened in the past, but I don’t carry that luggage into my present or future. ”
In quarantine, the team has had multiple zoom calls to discuss plans for the upcoming tour. Mithali said that the World Cup is the main goal right now and everyone is aligned with that.
“He is the coach and he has his plans, it is important that we are both aligned on the same page to move the team forward. Because even his goal is the same: for the team to do well in the World Cup. It’s the goal of everyone on the team, ”he said.
“We cannot be bitter and bear bitterness. I have never been a troublesome person, nor am I someone who brings the past to the present. Otherwise, I would not have survived that long in a sport, which clearly needs reinvention and revision all the time, “he said.
“It is important that we are on the same page and lead the team, because we are in a very crucial phase of our preparation for the World Cup.”
So the ice is already broken?
“Yes, we have regular meetings, discussions, so clearly we have made progress,” said the leader in race rankings in ODI cricket.
India will face England in a one-off event starting June 16 in Bristol. A day and night test against Australia has also been announced in September. With red ball cricket not being part of the national configuration since 2018 and limited preparation time before the game, India faces a great challenge.
However, Mithali, who has competed in just 10 events in 21 years, said the team will play to win.
“Looking at the itinerary that we have a few days before the test. And I’m sure the girls would also have trained or prepared accordingly at home before going into quarantine.
“Many of them have probably been preparing mentally. But it is very important to have some bases in place. That happens only when we all come out of quarantine in the UK …
“But I think sometimes it’s good not to go into the game with the baggage of expectations, as most of them are debuting and some of us are playing after a long interval.”
England and Australia are the only two teams that regularly play test cricket and India is trying to do the same now. Mithali said the BCCI is doing the best it can to help prepare the team amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s great that BCCI is trying to organize test matches in a bilateral series, because I think every player in the world would like to play more matches. And it is the dream of every player to wear white at some point, because it is the oldest format in the sport.
“We also have continuity. We play another test in Australia, and it will be historic for the Indian team because it will be the first time that you play a test day and night, also in WACA (Perth). I’m sure we will practice enough with the pink ball before that, ”she said.
Personally, she has mixed feelings before the Twin Test challenge.
“I’m not trying to play the Test in my mind, but yeah, I’m quite excited for it, actually, to lead the team in the longest format. It is a mixed feeling. I am excited and there is also a bit of nerves.
“Even though I have played for many years, Test is a format that I have not played regularly,” he said.
“So I’m excited because I’m going to be able to play a couple of test matches this season, especially the Day-Night game that I never thought about in my career, at least I could play that,” added Mithali, who is expected to retire from the game after the World Cup.
~ She is a professional blogger, writer, speaker, and attached to a famous magazine in India. She loves to cover all types of Sports news in NewsGater.