‘T20 decision wasn’t easy but life’s about moving forward,’ Mithali Raj
She has been representing India for more than two decades now; and there seems to be no lack of motivation to continue doing that for another couple of years at least. A stalwart of the game, inspiration to a number of young cricketers, and current ODI captain Mithali Raj spoke to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a Sketchers Performance Mumbai Walkathon event in Mumbai on Thursday. The marathon is due to take place on November 24.
There were reports that suggested you had made yourself available for T20Is. Why was there such a drastic change in decision?
Well no, I was misquoted. It was coming from early this year. It was not something that came overnight.
No T20s also means a lot less game time. Wouldn’t it affect you?
Well it can be seen in a positive manner as well. You get time to work on your fitness, do all those things which you couldn’t at one point—fitness sessions, walks, running, building your endurance, working on strength, etc. It gives me more time now to work on my skill as well. So, I now have more time to completely work on myself as a player.
Do you feel this (T20 retirement) was sort of an easy decision given this was your least liked format?
I wouldn’t say it was easy because my preparation for the T20 format was equally hard too.
But then yes I took time and any decision isn’t easy but life is all about moving forward. That’s what sports has also taught me.
You always keep saying you take one series at a time... But now when you say you want to play the next World Cup that’s nearly two years away...
Well it is just a goal. You have 2019 and 2020 to finish up first. It’s a goal I’m trying to work towards.
How difficult is it to keep yourself motivated at this stage of the career?
Well at different stages of your career you have different factors that get you motivated. At this juncture, I wanted badly that India should win the World Cup. That is something which has evaded me in the past and that is something I want to give one last shot. So that is something that motivates me immensely even now to look forward.
When the buzz usually is about ‘when is this veteran player going to retire’, what are the sorts of mental challenges?
I think when an athlete is playing for a long period, or for years, we tend to prioritise things. At the same time, an athlete takes up a lot to challenges to reach a certain period.
Yes Indians believe a lot in stats and numbers and it’s a part of every sport and every athlete. But I guess at the end of the day the athlete knows where they stand.
Your thoughts on Shafali Verma.
I think she’s a very talented youngster. And given the right kind of exposure she can be an asset to Indian team in the future.
From leading the side in its first T20 till now, what would you cite as your biggest high?
The T20I series in Australia (in 2015/16 where India beat Australia 2-1).