The latest development in the ongoing controversy over Mithali Raj’s exclusion from the World T20 semi-finals last month has shown a rift within the Indian women’s cricket team as T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana wrote to the BCCI backing coach Ramesh Powar.
The duo wrote to the BCCI top brass asking them to extend the coach’s contract and for the conflict between Powar and Raj to be settled amicably. To very little surprise, both emails found their way to the media. You can read Mandhana’s email here.
Harmanpreet’s email was titled “Humble Request” and was marked to the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA), Rahul Johri (BCCI CEO), Saba Karim (GM Cricket Operations) and the three BCCI office-bearers. The emails were also copied to Trupti Bhattacharya (India women team manager) and Sudha Shah (one of the national selectors).
Powar’s contract had ended on 30 November, a week after India lost the semi-finals of the World T20 to England. The team management dropped Raj for the knock-out fixture had triggered a huge controversy as the veteran went on to accuse Powar and COA member Diana Edulji of trying to destroy her and having a bias against her.
Powar, on his part, accused Raj of threatening to retire midway into the World T20 after being denied the opening slot and blackmailing the team.
The timeline of the entire saga can be found here
I am writing to bring it under your notice that how tremendously our team has gone under positive changes in the past few months and has set a benchmark in the world top teams. Our defeat in the semi-finals was very disheartening and it brings us all to feel more miserable to see how the controversies has stained our image and questioned the entire cricket fraternity.
Having kept in mind the confidence of each player that has build in the past three months, I tried to avoid and exceed the controversies blemishing our reputation. Sir Ramesh Powar not only improved us as players but did motivate us to set targets and challenge our own limits. He has changed the faced of Indian women’s cricket team both technically and strategically. He has inculcated in us the sense of winning.
With regard to the exclusion of Mithali Raj, Sir Ramesh Powar was not single handedly responsible. The decision was entirely based on the cricketing logics and observations from the past. Keeping in mind the need of the hour where me, Smriti, the selector (Sudha Shah) and the coach together in the presence of our manager felt that we should go ahead with the winning combination. And I believe it should have come to your understanding that the intent was not personal but entirely based for the welfare of the team.
Cutting the conversation short, I, as the T20 captain and ODI vice-captain is appealing before you to allow Powar to further continue as our team coach. There are hardly 15 months for the next T20 World Cup and a month to go for the New Zealand tour. The way he has transformed us as a team, I feel no reason to replace him with any better at this point of time when the team is coordinating well with him and amongst each other. It takes a while to understand and select combinations and equate with a coach’s temperament.
Another change of coach will effect our growth and we will have to start from the scratch. And whatever may be the reason for Ramesh Sir’s and Mithali Raj’s conflicts, they should solve it across the table like a family and call it truce. This will provide more sense and security to them and the entire team.
Thank you very much,
Harmanpreet Kaur Bhullar
Indian women’s cricket team