Mithali Raj created a world record on Wednesday, one of the many she owns, by becoming the first woman to breach the 6000-run barrier and now highest run-scorer of all time in ODIs, going past Charlotte Edwards. But she cut a disappointed figure in her post-match press conference and understandably so, because the team had lost the match against defending champions Australia.
As a captain, she was right to be disappointed. She was right to be upset. But the post-match quotes were revealing in more than one way. She sounded introspective and at times, even a bit alone in success. On more than one occasion, she seemed to hint that the teams she’s played in have held her back in some ways.
While it was understandable to reflect on the long journey, one cannot help but wonder if talking about being held back by the burden of responsibility augurs well ahead of a must-win match against New Zealand on Saturday. In terms of building morale for the team, even if unintentional, this seeming lack of confidence from their captain, could be a downer.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
On the journey so far
“Yeah quite the journey. Obviously when you have a long career there’s bound to be a lot of ups and downs. I’ve enjoyed batting I’ve always did and specially when the team requires me to stand up and get runs. One thing that has always been constant is the burden that I’ve carried all through my career. I felt that , someway if I had a few more batters to support me, maybe I would’ve, my game would have been much much better than what it is or what it was.”
Presence in the middle
“And even coming into the world cup, considering how the team has been performing the last 2 years I believe it was the right time for me to elevate my own personal batting standards into the tournament. But again it has come back to the same phase where me being in the middle gives lot of confidence for the other batters and it keeps the dressing room more confident. I’ve enjoyed my long career but also at the same time if I really have to introspect, I think probably because of the responsibility I’ve not really been able to enhance my batting as much as I want to.”
‘It could have been better’
“Playing for a stronger side with more players to stand up and win games it gives you the freedom to play your shots and you don’t have to think about what happens if you get out. There are times when you want to take calculated risks, but ‘What if you get out?’ has always been in the back of my mind through my career. India has always had that problem. Faced with crunch matches, the team doesn’t step up.”
“There are times where I can push it to the next level. But I never got that opportunity in the teams that I’ve played. I lacked three or four players who could stand up.”
And an ominous note ahead of New Zealand
“If it is a very crucial game which decides the win, we have usually faltered in that match.”