Lockdown diaries: A time to take stock for Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj admits that it is a very difficult phase for any athlete to be in, especially when it is time to prepare for the season ahead.

Mithali Raj admits that it is a very difficult phase for any athlete to be in, especially when it is time to prepare for the season ahead.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

It is a ‘forced break’ for many champion athletes across the world and more so for someone like the best-ever women’s cricketer from India, Mithali Raj.

And, the 37-year-old Mithali, at home for more than a week for the first time in an illustrious career spanning a stunning 21 years, is now digging deep into her treasure trove… of mementoes, trophies and India jerseys which are re-kindling memories of some of her fabulous feats what with the dreaded Coronavirus forcing her stay put indoors now.

“In a way, it is a blessing in disguise as I can afford to do things which I haven’t for years like cleaning up my room and ‘discovering’ many souvenirs about which I had almost forgotten,” says Mithali in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

“Yes, definitely spending time with my niece (brother’s eight-year-old daughter Anagha) being the best of all moments,” she says with a big smile.

“Definitely, it is not just doing these sorts of things but also keeping fit as all gyms are also closed and I am doing some basic exercises to be in the right shape - mentally and physically - as once this virus is eradicated, we hope to be back on the field,” says Mithali.

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“It is also time to read some books. Normally, when I am with the Indian team I prefer to read fiction stories. Now I am reading non-fiction ones too,” she says.

“It is also time to read some books. Normally, when I am with the Indian team I prefer to read fiction stories. Now I am reading non-fiction ones too,” Mithali says.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

 

Mithali admits that it is a very difficult phase for any athlete to be in, especially when it is time to prepare for the season ahead.

“But again, you have to understand the gravity of the situation across the world and plan your daily activity accordingly. No doubt, everything looks uncertain now as to what will happen next,” she says.

“Certainly, at times, I do fear as to how things would evolve with this dreaded virus. There is a panicky feeling for sure as to what will happen if it worsens,” she says. “For, there is nothing more valuable than life and these are dangerous times for sure,” she adds.

What are her impressions about this grim scenario?

“Just imagine the kind of impact it will have on the underprivileged.

“I can easily visualise the kind of challenges the leaders face. For, as the Indian team captain, there were instances when I had to put in a conscious effort to make my teammates stay calm and composed under pressure knowing fully well it is sometimes impossible to change the course of matches,” Mithali explained.

“I have been following on the social media every hour the developments related to this virus and I do feel with a sense of pride that India is much better off than most of the other countries hit by it,” she pointed out.

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“It is the first of its kind of experience, harrowing indeed, for all of us and hopefully will be the last,” Mithali says.

“This is a part of life. For years, I have been used to the routine of getting up early morning, going to training sessions, coming back to relax for a couple of hours and going back again on the field. It seems it will take some time to get back to that daily regimen again,” she says.

“All I can say to everyone is to understand the way the governments - at the centre and in the states – are facing the challenges and contribute in our own way to see an early end to this crisis,” Mithali appeals.

Since she has the time now, does she watch videos of the big achievers - in sports and in other walks of life?

“Certainly not mine for sure. I have never watched my own videos. Yes, I am always keen to know how the successful ones have overcome the challenges in some of the most demanding situations. For you can always pick a few new aspects in countering your own challenges,” she says.

Mithali is now digging deep into her treasure trove… of mementoes, trophies and India jerseys which are re-kindling memories of some of her fabulous feats.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Isn’t women’s cricket really upbeat after the massive response to the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne? How was it being there in Melbourne as the ICC ambassador?

“It was an unforgettable experience. The atmosphere was unbelievable and the crowd response matched men’s cricket in terms of not just attendance but the passion with which they supported the two teams - India and Australia - sporting different dresses and colours and showing their patriotism,” she explains.

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“But, like all other sports bodies, the ICC is forced to reschedule many events. We were supposed to play the World Cup (50 overs) qualifiers in Sri Lanka this June, then tour England this July-August. But, given the grim battle with the virus, everything will go for a toss,” she feels.

On an IPL for women, Mithali feels that if at all the intention is there, this is the right time to start. “But, again this virus must have put on hold all thoughts in this regard,” she adds.

But the champion cricketer suggests that the women’s IPL rules should be different like allowing six foreign players instead of four (as in men’s cricket) as women’s cricket doesn’t have too many domestic players to form a team.

“But I strongly believe you need to start somewhere and it is high time to come up with the women’s IPL,” she ends.