Veteran Indian women’s cricketer and ODI captain Mithali Raj believes more needs to be done in order for the game to grow and give the world more success stories like that of Thailand.
Thailand will be playing their maiden ICC event when they turn out in the ICC Women’s World T20 in Australia next year and Raj wants to see more such success stories in the future.
“I think the top teams have been doing well, whether it is Australia, England, New Zealand, India or South Africa," Raj told ICC.
“But we need to have more teams participating in the ICC events. Like this year, Thailand is going to play their first ICC event.
“So teams like that need to be encouraged. We need to give them more exposure. That is something we need to do more to spread women’s cricket around the world.
“People from countries other than the cricket-loving ones should be able to come forward and accept the sport as a profession. That is something we need to work on."
Raj, who retired from T20I cricket recently and was a key figure in India’s recent rise to the upper echelons of the women’s game, says her favourite moment in the format was a 2-1 series win against Australia in 2016.
“Winning the T20 series in Australia, beating Australia in 2016, is the highlight. Because until then, we ourselves didn’t believe that we are a decent T20 team. And that series win against Australia imbibed a lot of confidence into the team.
“Since then, we have seen a few girls getting into the WBBL, getting more opportunities, which has opened a lot of gates for domestic players to show a lot of interest in this format."
Indeed, India’s T20I team now consists of the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues who are now internationally-travelled superstars of the game.
For her part, Raj believes Jemimah will be the one to watch out for during the World T20.
“Jemimah has been doing really well in this format, especially scoring runs on the New Zealand tour.
“She also had a good record in the WBBL, playing on Australian soil. She is one player you can look forward to in the T20 World Cup.
“The current generation is fearless in terms of results. If they feel like they should take a stand or go ahead, they go ahead irrespective of what the situation is.
”That definitely helps in your approach as a confident player."
Raj remains an integral part of the ODI side and she wants to play in the 2021 World Cup, but knows she will need to maintain her fitness to get there.
“I have a set goal of playing the 2021 World Cup. I am looking forward to working a lot on my fitness, because that is going to be one of the main criteria for me to extend my career.
At the same time, (I want to) work on my skills to keep myself up-to-date to the current international standards in women’s cricket."