Indian cricket legend Mithali Raj announced retirement from all forms of international cricket on Wednesday.
The 39-year-old retires as the highest run-getter in One Day Internationals, as the only woman to have crossed the 6,000-run mark in the 50-over format.
Most runs in ODIs
She featured in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in March to become the lone female cricketer and only the third overall, besides Sachin Tendulkar and Javed Miandad to have appeared in six World Cups after making her international debut in 1999.
In a career spanning over two decades, Mithali amassed 7805 ODI runs in 211 innings, 2364 runs in 84 T20I innings and 699 runs in 19 Test innings. She is regarded as one of the greatest batters of all time, especially in the ODI format where she has dominated the batting charts across metrics over the years.
In a statement on her official Twitter handle, she wrote:
I set out as a little girl on the journey to wear the India blues as representing your country is the highest honour. The journey was full of highs and some lows. Each event taught me something unique and the last 23 years have been the most fulfilling, challenging & enjoyable years of my life.
Like all journeys, this one too must come to an end.
Today is the day I retire from all forms of International Cricket.
Each time I stepped on the field, I gave my very best with the intent to help India win. I will always cherish the opportunity given to me to represent the tricolour.
I feel now is the perfect time to call curtains on my playing career as the team is in the capable hands of some very talented young players and the future of Indian Cricket is bright.
I’d like to thank the BCCI & Shri Jay Shah Sir (Honorary Secretary, BCCI) for all the support I have received - first as a player and then as the Captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket Team.
It was an honour to have led the team for so many years. It definitely shaped me as a person & hopefully helped shape Indian Women’s Cricket as well.
This journey may have ended but another one beckons as I’d love to stay involved in the game I love and contribute to the growth of Women’s Cricket in India and world over.
Special mention to all my fans, thank you for all your love & support.— via Mithali Raj's social media
Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur were among the many to post tributes to Mithali on social media.
“We overcame odds, both in life and on the cricket field, ever since we started playing U19 cricket. Your affection and support as a colleague & captain always inspired and pushed me towards achieving greater heights. You were outstanding both on and off the field,” Jhulan wrote.
“I will forever cherish bowling to you in domestic matches and at nets. I enjoyed every match we played together and every celebration we had after winning matches. I congratulate you for your brilliant career and thank you for contribution to women’s cricket. I wish you success in all your future endeavours. You are a real hero for all aspiring woman cricketers in India. All the best and may you continue to inspire and shine.”
Harmanpreet Kaur, the T20I captain, tweeted: “Cricket is a dream and when I started off my career I had no idea that women’s cricket existed but the only name ever told or heard was yours Mithali Di. You sewed (sic) the seed for all the young girls to take up this sport and dream big. Wish you the best in life.”
The BCCI said in a tweet: “Your contribution to Indian Cricket has been phenomenal.”
After making her international debut against Ireland in 1999, Raj now ends her career as the leading run-scorer in women’s international cricket with a total of 10,868 runs. She is India’s only double centurion in Tests, with her 214 against England in 2002 being the game’s second-highest individual score.
She captained India at the recent 2022 ICC Women’s ODI Cricket World Cup where India missed out on reaching the semi-finals. In what would now be her final press conference as India captain, she had said: “There will be generations of players coming and going, the team definitely will have to get going. After every World Cup there is always a change in the team, in the dressing room. There’ll be fresh faces in, there will be some experienced players in.”
“So I think every team has to go through this process of rebuilding a team after the World Cup especially after the one day World Cup, so that they prepare for the coming World Cups in another four years. And I guess we are no different, probably the Indian team also will probably go through the same transformation.”