It is deplorable that such a gifted player as Mithali Raj who was largely responsible for some spectacular successes of the Indian women’s cricket team was not included in the team that was mauled by England in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup in the West Indies. Now, that Mithali and the interim coach of the team Ramesh Powar are washing dirty linen in public, it is clear that malice and pique were behind the decision not to include Mithali and not cricketing talent or suitability.
Powar would have one believe that he did not want to change a winning combination that had won the previous match in which Maithali was not included due to injury. But clearly, that is a lame excuse. Maithali had, over the years, distinguished herself by her superlative batting performances. Her qualities of leadership were also considerable considering that in the preceding World Cup in England she had led the team to the finals overcoming stiff competition. Reports say it was a phone call from a cricket administrator that influenced Powar.
It is indeed a pity that as she was nearing the end of her illustrious career in the service of the country, she was humiliated, and embarrassed by a coach whose ability to organise the team was, to say the least, questionable. Mithali’s deep sense of remorse was palpable as she tweeted: “I’m deeply saddened and hurt by the aspersions cast on me. The hard work, sweat were in vain. Today, my patriotism has been doubted, my skill set questioned and all the mud slinging — it’s the darkest day of my life…” Powar’s take was that Mithali could not understand and adapt to her role in the team, batted for her own milestones and provided minimum input in team meetings. For a team that has been steadily crossing milestones, this is, indeed, a sad chapter.