INDIA: Mithali Raj has ended her illustrious career, declaring her decision to “retire from all forms of International Cricket” in a Twitter statement.
39-year-old Raj made the revelation on Twitter, where she wrote a heartfelt letter that summed up her 23-year career.
Raj leaves India as the most-capped female cricketer in the country’s history, as well as the leading run-scorer in women’s international cricket, with 10,868 runs from 333 games.
“Thank you for all your love & support over the years! I look forward to my 2nd innings with your blessing and support,” she tweeted.
“I feel now is the perfect time to call curtains on my playing career as the team is in the capable hands of some very talented young players and the future of Indian Cricket is bright.”
Raj made her debut in 1999 at the age of 16 and went on to become one of the all-time greats and a keystone of India’s batting for the next two decades. She won the Arjuna award, the Padma Shri award, and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award just last year.
Raj emerged onto the scene as a youngster and made an immediate impression, hitting a century in her first ODI match.
She became the youngest centurion in women’s cricket when she scored an unbroken 114 against Ireland. Raj currently holds the record for WODIs.
Raj led India to the finals of two World Cups as captain, in 2005 and 2017, but the coveted title eluded her. Raj’s record in One-Day Internationals is unrivalled, with 7805 runs scored from 232 matches at a remarkable average of 50.68, including seven centuries.
Despite outside chatter about her role in the Indian T20I set-up, Raj is the county’s leading run-getter in T20Is as well. Despite only appearing in 12 Tests, she is India’s only double-centurion (214 vs England in 2002).
“A wonderful career comes to an end! Thank you @M_Raj03 for your immense contribution to Indian cricket. Your leadership on the field has brought much glory to the National women’s team. Congratulations for an illustrious innings on the field and best wishes for your next innings,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah tweeted congratulating Mithali on her wonderful career.
Mithali’s final international match would be against South Africa during the World Cup as a result of the decision.
She made 68 runs off 84 balls, but it wasn’t enough as India lost by three wickets and was knocked out of the tournament. Raj was the first batter in women’s one-day international history to score seven consecutive fifties.
“It was an honour to have led the team for so many years. It definitely shaped me as a person & hopefully helped shape Indian Women’s Cricket as well,” she wrote in her statement.