By the time the 2021 edition of the Women’s World Cup comes around, Mithali Raj will be 38. But the Indian captain, who had earlier said that the 2017 World Cup in England would be her last, said on Monday (October 9) that she would be doing her best to make an appearance in 2021 too.
During the course of the 2017 World Cup, where India finished runners-up to England, Raj became the leading run-scorer in women’s One-Day International history. By the end of the tournament, she had 6,190 runs, having gone past Charlote Edwards’s mark of 5992. Among active players, Sarah Taylor is the closest to Raj’s mark, with 3657 runs.
Playing the 2021 World Cup would take some doing on her part, Raj admitted, but while speaking to reporters during the launch of the ICC International Women’s Championship 2017-2020 cycle in New Delhi, she sounded positive about giving it a shot.
“I am not writing off playing the next World Cup [in New Zealand] but I will have to get through these next three years to get into the fourth year for that World Cup,” she pointed out. “It is also important for me to see and analyse how my form is by then, so right now I am looking at the World T20 (2018) and the other matches I get to play in 2018.”
India haven’t played a single fixture in any format since the World Cup final in July, but Raj and her team-mates have been constantly on the move since, playing their part in promoting women’s cricket and basking in the new-found adulation.
“It has been really busy since July but it feels nice to be appreciated and treated at par with men’s cricket. People want to know more about the lives of women cricketers. It was not the case back in 2005,” said Raj, who had led India to the World Cup final on that occasion too.
The women’s domestic season in India will kick off in early November, and India are scheduled to tour South Africa in January for three ODIs and three Twenty20 Internationals, with the T20I series to be played as double-headers alongside the men’s exchanges.
“The domestic season starts in December and that will act as preparation for the South Africa tour,” pointed out Raj. “It will also be the beginning of getting back into the game for players after a three-month lay off.”