Former India captain Mithali Raj said that she would be open to playing in the inaugural Women’s Indian Premier League.
Raj retired from international cricket in 2022 as the most-capped women’s player and the highest aggregate run-scorer across all three formats.
Speaking to former England player Isa Guha and New Zealand off-spinner Frankie Mackay in the inaugural episode of ICC’s 100% Cricket podcast, Raj said she is open to playing in the WIPL, which is expected to be launched in 2023.
“I’m keeping that option open. I’ve not yet decided. There are a few more months to go before the women’s IPL happens. It would be lovely to be part of the first edition of the women’s IPL.”
The 39-year-old also said that she considered retirement a couple of times in her career when she was struggling with a knee injury.
“There were a couple of times where I felt like I wanted to take retirement. One is because I was struggling with my knee injury for a long, long time. We came under the BCCI in 2006-07 but my injury was from 2005. I did not have a physio or facilities to help me with my rehab. So at the peak of my career, I played with a bad knee and it drained me mentally and emotionally more than the physical pain that I had to endure. That is why after the 2009 World Cup, I considered retirement,” she said.
However, the response for the 2009 World Cup was pivotal in changing her mind about retirement.
“That was the first time that the ICC decided to televise a few games and I saw the people’s response and received the appreciation on air. So I decided to continue for another couple of years. And somehow I have managed to play for a long time.”
Raj called Indian opener Shafali Verma a ‘once-in-a-generation’ talent and said that the youngster made an instant impression on her when she saw her play in a domestic match.
“I have been a big fan of her game. I have seen that she’s one player who has the ability to win the game single-handedly for India against any attack and any team. She is one of those players that you get to see probably once in a generation.
“When I saw Shafali in a domestic match when she played against Indian Railways, she scored a fifty but I could see a glimpse of a player who could change the entire match just with her innings,” said Raj.
“And when she played for Velocity in the first edition of the Challenger Trophy, she played for my team and I saw that she has the ability and the raw power that you rarely get to see at that age to clear the boundary and hit a six at will.”
Raj also spoke about her early career, life after retirement and her biopic, Shabaash Mithu.