Indian captain Mithali Raj is one of the greatest batters in the history of the women’s game. She is the highest scorer for India in ODIs and T20Is. In an exclusive to CricketNext, Raj opens up about her cricketing journey and how her position within the team and priorities have changed over the years.
“Priorities do change. When I got selected for the first time in the Indian team way back in 1999, I was trying to make an impression ‘that I am a good player and I deserve to be in the team’. Once you do that, you become a core member of the team and want to perform every time."
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Raj was given the responsibility of leading the Indian team at a very young age and that brought with it its own challenges.
“I got captaincy at a very young age. I had seniors under me, I had ex-captains under me. The priorities change when you become the captain."
She added that now she is a senior member of the team and takes upon herself to mentor the young players. Raj also added that the various phases during her career helped her grow as an individual and a player. She further stated that her experience helped her to empathize and understand the junior members better.
“After that, there were players who were of my age. Then came a point when players were junior to me. Today, most of them are younger to me. Over the years, the phases also helped. When I had young players under me, I see it as being a semi-mentor now. I understand the players better. From leading a team with seniors, leading a team with ex-captains, leading a team with players of my age-group and now leading the young players, I had so many players under me."
“I am in a better position to understand the insecurities of a player, their vulnerabilities in my own capacity, I try to give them space, help them iron out issues. I could do it because of the experience of leading so many players over the years, I have also seen that it is not just about leading a team. It is also a lot to do with giving them a platform to flourish, showcase their talent, and also try to build the team because after every World Cup, there are a lot of changes in the side," added Raj.
Raj also spoke about the responsibilities as the leader of the team and her role as captain.
“As the captain, you identify talent, nurture it. A lot has gone in these many years, it has helped me become a better player, a better captain. It has also changed me as a person over time. I see it as me helping them, sharing my experiences with them so that they don’t have to go through the same things that I went through."
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