Still coming to terms with the controversy that erupted after the ICC Women’s World T20 last year, Mithali Raj has said she felt betrayed in the dressing room and these days, tries to keep to herself.
The issue involved the Indian ODI captain, former coach Ramesh Powar and Committee of Administrators member Diana Edulji, whom Raj accused of trying to finish her career.
Speaking to Cricbuzz during the ongoing Women’s T20 Challenge, Raj has said the fact that she was called selfish was hard to take and she was let down by people she trusted.
“I wouldn’t say I felt lonely but I definitely feel that I was betrayed,” Raj said. “When you hear terms like ‘selfish’ and all, it only makes those people very small.”
When asked to explain the betrayal, Raj alluded to the leaking of emails.
“I felt betrayed because when you reach out to people who are very important, who hold a post, and you tell them exactly what happened and then you get to know that there’s a big controversy or conspiracy in fact has happened,” the veteran Indian cricketer said.
“As a player you feel sad that at this level you are being singled out for the fact that I stood up for myself. I have not done anything wrong standing up for myself. And I have not done anything wrong in reaching out to the board because I am under the board. I have not gone to the media. I reached out to them [board],” Raj said.
One of the accusations of Powar was that Raj was acting selfish and using her authority to get she wanted — opening the batting. The former coach had also alleged that Raj was threatening to retire.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t even want to justify to someone who’s termed me as a selfish player. Till date, in 20 years of my career, I have played under numerous coaches. Did anyone come out and say that I was a pain in the a**e? Nobody! So, why should I even try to justify? After so many years of playing for country, if I was that bad then probably I wouldn’t have played for so long.”
“There’s something that is right in me that I continued to play for so long. He’s pretty much accused me [my] commitment for country. A coach is telling to not come out of the dressing room, have you ever seen or heard that before? If I wanted to make it very dirty, I could have made it. Because I have chats with me. But I have not come out with it because I see it as the sport is getting a very bad image. And that is why I kept quiet,” Raj added.
Raj’s strike-rate in the shortest format has always provided fodder for her critics but what India’s ODI skipper cannot fathom is why she gets singled out for criticism, saying “it doesn’t come in the radar because it is not Mithali Raj.” She was also upset at an unnamed former cricketer for using social media to question her.
“I’m not saying the fact that I am the best T20 player. No! I know where I stand. But to unfairly pinpoint at the only thing you can pinpoint in my whole batting analysis then I can pick out numerous players in this current Indian team and I can question you. But why is it that only I am being questioned?,” Raj asked.
Raj, the leading run-scorer in the world in ODIs, says she has not thought about her future yet, not ruling out playing in the 2021 50-over World Cup but does not expect to feature in next year’s T20 World Cup. These days, however, she keeps to herself in the dressing room.
“I do keep to myself and people can’t judge me for that right now. If they even have a little bit of humanity in them, they would understand what I have gone through to put myself to be on my own,” she said.
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