Mithali Raj, Ramesh Powar public spat to inviting a new applicant for Head Coach; suffers Indian Women’s cricket.
The first ever stand-alone tournament of the year, ICC Women’s World T20 has ended recently where India reached the top four after eight long years. They beat New Zealand, Pakistan, Ireland, Australia in the group league and finished as the group-topper. They faced England in the semi-final where within 18 months England again beat them after the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur and the coach Ramesh Powar showed a bold decision by dropping experienced Mithali Raj from the most important match.
Mithali Raj, one of the best batters in the world, has performed well in the World T20 as well. She scored two back-to-back half-centuries against Pakistan and Ireland before getting rest in the match against Australia due to knee-injury and slight fever.
While team management decided to play with the winning combination, Mithali Raj’s omission from the playing XI in the crucial match against England in Antigua on November 22, led them to a big controversy as they lost the game by eight wickets.
As stated in Times Of India, the decision to drop Mithali Raj in the knockout game was taken a few hours prior to the match by the team management (captain Harmanpreet Kaur, the coach Ramesh Powar and the vice-captain Smriti Mandhana). Sudha Shah, the selector too agreed with the decision.
“I, as manager, convened the meeting. They (captain, coach, and selector) discussed the wicket and the coach expressed that the same winning combination against Australia should play. Harman and Smriti shared the same view and also told the selector, Sudha Shah, that an extra bowler would help the team. Sudha Shah agreed to the XI and did not express anything,”
Trupti Bhattacharya, the team manager, expressed in her report.
While Mithali Raj’s personal coach RSR Murthy told to the Sportstar that Mithali was “crestfallen” after being dropped out.
“Mithali was told after the warm-up session on the morning of the semifinal that she doesn’t figure in the playing XI, leaving her terribly disappointed. Only last night, I spoke to her and she looked mentally and physically geared up for the semifinal and even hinted that she might not open but would play in the middle-order,” Murthy told. “I told her just to enjoy batting in any position she gets a chance. Apparently, the coach and the captain Harmanpreet Kaur took the call to drop her.”
The news of Mithali’s omission spread too quickly. Anisha Gupta, her commercial manager, tweeted, saying Harmanpreet Kaur “manipulative, lying, cheat”. Everyone started tweeting against the captain and the coach while Harmanpreet defended the call to drop Mithali, saying,
“Whatever we decided, we decided for the team. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Later on, when it was told that CoA, consisting of Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji wanted Mithali Raj’s fitness log from the World Twenty20 and wanted to meet the concerned players, manager, and coach to understand the reason, Edulji told Mid-Day that she had not asked for the fitness log. But former coach Tushar Arothe’s statement showed another way of the story, where he said that Edulji had asked about dropping Pooja Vastrakar in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh in June.
Another controversy started when Mithali Raj broke her silence after coming back to India and her email to the BCCI got leaked; where she vented her anger over the coach and CoA member Diana Edulji, saying,
“with Diana turning against me publicly and with the coach’s unjust behavior, I feel utterly dejected and depressed.” according to India Today.
Things got uglier when the next day coach Ramesh Powar’s letter too got leaked, where he expressed that he always found Mithali “aloof and difficult to handle”.
All these nasty blame games left Mithali “Deflated, depressed and let down”; which she tweeted saying “the darkest day of my life.”
I'm deeply saddened & hurt by the aspersions cast on me. My commitment to the game & 20yrs of playing for my country.The hard work, sweat, in vain.
Today, my patriotism doubted, my skill set questioned & all the mud slinging- it's the darkest day of my life. May god give strength
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) November 29, 2018
For which she got the support from her fans and former players like Jhulan Goswami, Sunil Gavaskar etc. while Ramesh Powar got trolled for his philosophical tweet over that.
— ramesh powar (@imrameshpowar) November 29, 2018
The enmity between Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar has shaken Indian women’s cricket. Every story has it’s two sides. Where Mithali Raj’s contribution to the sport is unquestionable. The stalwart of women’s cricket who stood strong in every situation whenever the team needed her for the last 19-years.
On the other hand, India finished the World T20 with 4 wins and 1 defeat under Powar’s coaching which is considered their best performance to date. In every previous edition, India had lost at least two matches. Before this tournament, they had never beaten New Zealand or Australia but this year they did. Moreover, a lot of players have praised his work, to play a fearless brand of cricket. India lost only 2 matches out of 13 matches including ODIs and T20Is within this three months.
If Powar’s words to be believed, then the veteran’s behavior was not appropriate towards the game, while Mithali Raj’s email expressed Powar’s lack of man-management skills. Powar, who had a not-so-good international career, got an opportunity to create an image for himself.
If we go with the cricketing record, Mithali Raj is one of the best batters as well as the highest run-getter in the world in ODI format but might not be the best batter in the shortest format. Though the numbers (2,283 runs at an average of 37.42) are impressive in the first look, her strike rate is low than Jemimah Rodrigues (129), Anuja Patil (125), Harmanpreet Kaur (124), Smriti Mandhana (124), Mithali Raj (103) for the last two years. Her strike rate exceeded 125 only once, in the match against Malaysia.
But, we can’t deny the fact that Mithali Raj has the ability to anchor any innings till the end and she is one of the best batters of slow-pitch. The pitch which was used in the semi-final was a little slow and India’s decision to drop her backfired them.
It will be wrong to take anyone’s side without knowing the right things. With these blame games and leaked emails, the lone sufferer is the Indian Women’s Cricket, which started getting their due recognition after the ICC Women’s World Cup last year. Powar’s stint with Women’s team has ended on Friday and BCCI has started inviting new applications for the post.
There are certain criteria for the post. Candidates should have either played international cricket or should have done a Level ‘C’ coaching course from the National Cricket Academy or a similar organization. They should have played 50 first-class matches. If anyone does not fill these two criteria, then he/she should have the experience of coaching of an international team for one season or a T20 franchise for two seasons. Only below 60 years of age people are eligible for this post to apply. The selected person will be given a two-year contract.
New coach’s first assignment will be the New Zealand tour. India will tour to New Zealand in late January and the series will start from January 24. They will play three ODIs as a part of the ICC Women’s Championship (2017-20) and three T20Is there.