Why it's time to start talking about Mithali Raj, instead of Virat Kohli
How long will we push our women players' achievements aside?
When you think about cricket, what's the first name that pops in your head? You probably thought of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, or Sachin Tendulkar. But India does have a women's cricket team, and let's be honest--many die-hard cricket fans don't know the names of the players.
Cricket has always been considered a man's game. Hell, it is even called a 'gentleman's sport'. It is no surprise that our fierce team of eves gets ignored by the mainstream media, or the fact that it doesn't get as much attention, even from sponsors and Sports Authority of India as the men's team.
However, the lack of love has never stopped these adroit players from leaving a mark. They qualified for the ICC women's World Cup 2017 today, beating Bangladesh by 9 wickets. Yes, the freaking World Cup!
The team beat South Africa by 49 runs in their first Super Sixes match of the Women's World Cup Qualifier in Colombo under the captainship of Mithali Raj. And that's not all. The captain has become the second woman cricketer to score 5,500 runs in ODIs.
The 34-year-old player, who is currently at the second position on the ODI rankings for women, has been at the stead for almost two decades now.
At the age of 17, she made her debut for India against Ireland and scored an unbeaten 114, and has been unstoppable ever since. She lead the women's team at the 2005 World Cup, reached the finals to play against Austalia, and became the highest run-scorer for India. In the next World Cup, in 2009, she continued her feat of being the highest scorer.
She led the Indian women's team in their first-ever series victory in Tests, in England, and then went on to win the Asia Cup twice in a matter of a year's time. Two years later, in 2008, she captained India Women in their fourth consecutive Asia Cup, reaching 3,000 ODI runs in the same year.
Mithali, who has been conferred with the Arjuna Award (2003) and the Padma Shri (2015), became the first female cricketer to win the Wisden India Cricketers of the Year in 2015. She's truly a hero and deserves the same respect as her male counterparts.
Our focus on men's team prove one thing and one thing only--women are still considered weak to play a sport like cricket. And the onus for this thinking lies with the authorities, along with a serious lack of sponsorship. No one doubts the abilties of female cricketers. Be it Mithali or Jhulan Goswami, female cricketers are held in high regard by a lot of their male counterparts. Which makes us wonder why exactly has the attitude not changed? And how long will we be this cold towards women's cricket? How long will we push their achievements aside? How long will we treat them as mere adjuncts to the men?
We celebrate Women's Day every year to reaffirm our commitment to make the world a happier place for women. But it seems like just an eyewash when we look at the bigger picture. Maybe instead of empty celebration, we can start by paying attention to our women's cricketers more.