Nooshin Al Khadeer has been the best friend of Mithali Raj for close to 23 years now.
And, when Mithali announced her retirement from all forms of international cricket on Wednesday, Nooshin was not really surprised.
“Yes, it is a mixed feeling for sure. But, again, we have to respect her call,” Nooshin informed Sportstar.
“I can only say Mithali has accomplished whatever an Indian woman cricketer could. Her contribution will always be remembered. She was, she is and will remain the face of women’s cricket,” said Nooshin, who said she played 78 ODIs and claimed 100 wickets and five Tests either with Mithali or under her.
Commenting on her role the few times Mithali went through tough phases, the former India cricketer said from her side the emphasis was that Mithali should focus on what the task was - since she was a batter, she thought she should score runs and nothing else.
READ: Mithali Raj - the torchbearer of women's cricket in India
“For any player, the most important thing is to be there for what they have been. Perform and ignore all the distractions,” was Nooshin’s advice.
Were you surprised that Mithali played at the highest level for 23 years despite being a women cricketer? “Honestly, no. Because of her grit, discipline and great talent,” Nooshin said.
What have been the best moments with Mithali? “All her achievements. Because, I have been part of them as a friend, well-wisher. We were always connected with each other. So, when your best friend does better than what she had done a day or a year before, it is a huge moment for you too,” Nooshin said, reminding that Mithali was part of the team when the former made her international debut.
“Glad, that there is no retirement of our friendship which all began in 2009 as rivals - I was leading Karnataka and Mithali the then united Andhra Pradesh in the under-19 grade. But, soon we became best friends as our thoughts and ideas were so similar,” 41-year-old Nooshin recalled.
“Life is a journey. The playing journey has ended for Mithali. But friendship is beyond all these things. I wish good luck in all her future endeavours and I am sure she will do the right things in whatever assignment she takes up,” the former India off-spinner said.
“Yes, I have been part of her journey - ups and downs. The most impressive feature of her is that she has always been a very grounded person despite all her achievements and the honours she received,” Nooshin said.
What role do you envisage for Mithali? “The kind of experience she has, she can contribute as an administrator like Belinda Clark. Mithali is suitable to change the face of women’s cricket in India and across the world,” Nooshin signed off.