Mithali Raj is a legend of women's cricket. More than 6,000 runs in ODIs, the highest run-getter in the 50-overs game, first woman to score seven consecutive half-centuries in ODIs... she has well and truly booked her place in cricket's hall of fame. But like every successful person, she has had moments of despair to deal with.
“When you have a long career, there are usually times where a player might not be inspired also. For me at least, there were phases where I didn’t feel like playing cricket anymore," Raj said in an interview to ESPNCricinfo.
Raj had debuted way back in 1999, and in many ways has come to be identified with women's cricket in the country. She has had a successful World Cup this year, with three fifties and a hundred, and finds herself at the cusp of glory, having led India to the final of the showpiece event where they face hosts England, a team India had already beaten in the group stage.
But what was it like for her when the going was tough, and how did she deal with it? She has had to endure the heartbreak of losing the World Cup final in 2005, she has had to contend with the brusque attitude that women's cricket has generally had to deal with in India.
Raj realised, however, that people in India were slowly warming up to women's cricket after 2009 when the World Cup was televised for the first time. And that's when she told herself, "if I have already sacrificed so much to come so far, I should push a little more. And I’ve pushed so far”.
What is it that has kept her motivated over such a long period of time? Raj attributes it to the sacrifices made by her parents, who, she reveals, have had to endure a lot of negativity from immediate family members. It was these memories that gave her strength and kept her quitting. And the country can't thank her enough for deciding to give it all another shot.