Why Mithali Raj’s selection as Wisden’s Women’s cricketer of the year must be celebrated?

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Imagine you are sitting in a gala award function with the subject of the gathering being an intricate discussion about Cricket, the gentleman’s sport. What might, therefore, be an apt description on a placard that bears the name of Mithali Raj. For most of us, there couldn’t be anything that Mithali might need to prove to her critics and fans alike: for she’s pretty much at the zenith of greatness in the sport.

Mithali Raj: The Standard Bearer of Excellence

What might suffice, therefore, could be a salutation paying homage to her utterly selfless and studious character; one that has gone on to inspire so many of her contemporary cricketers. Mithali Raj, after all, is in a league of her own.
If in the same presentation, you were to hear some pearls of wisdom from the scorer of the most runs in ODIs in women’s game, it might bear a striking resemblance to the following. “Awards and merits are part and parcel of the game. You don’t play for the merits or rewards; you play to lift the soul and spirit of cricket. And if you happen to do your job with a keenness and zest, then you can be assured success will greet you eventually.” What else but such simplicity could be expected from a woman who’s been the standard bearer of excellence in a sport that fans her flames.
This, mind you, is Mithali Raj’s 19th year in a sport that she’s taken to great heights. It could be argued that for most contemporary cricketers born in an age of incessant social media presence, where clicking a selfie with an iconic cricketer connotes an important tick-mark in the bucket list. Not for Mithali Raj. Just a quiet studiousness to build an important inning for India may suffice. Calm and collected on the field and graceful off it, Mithali Raj lives by a simple and fairly uncomplicated rule. When you play for India, you play to uphold the dignity of the game. Therefore, there’s little surprise that Wisden- a profoundly important dossier on the gentleman’s sport- has elected Mithali Raj as the 2017 Women cricketer of the year.

Why Wisden’s salutation makes sense for Mithali Raj?

And why not, it ought to be asked. In Mithali Raj- cricket is fortunate to have not just an exemplary talent who’s gone on to become the most capped ODI player in the history of the women’s game. But also, rewardingly someone, who at 35 bats with the passion of a 19-year-old. It doesn’t matter to Mithali- truth be told- who might she be forging a partnership with; whether Jemimah Rodriguez or Smiriti Mandhana. Runs should, eventually, flow from her bat and should lift India’s chances in a contest.

What lies ahead?

And if you were to excuse some recent outings, then stats suggest Mithali Raj has been in some form of late. It wasn’t too long ago that during the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup- Mithali Raj struck her seventh consecutive half-century. Less of an irony too that in the mother of all cricketing battles, hosted in England, Mithali broke Englishwoman Charlotte Edwards batting record and reached the 6000-run mark. You instantly understand the wisdom lying with Wisden in hailing Mithali as the Women’s cricketer of 2017 when you gauge that no other contemporary or past cricketer has made as many consecutive ODI appearances in the game as Mithali Raj: 109. With 2018 having only just begun and a few months to go before the Women’s World T20 this year, it might be interesting to note the next set of achievements that Raj would be ready to aim for.

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