Streaming just ahead of the T20 women’s world cup, former two-time captain of the Indian women cricket team Mithali Raj pours her heart out in a new season of Duologue with Barun Das on News9 Plus. She talks about the gamechanger for women’s cricket – WPL – where she mentors the Gujarat Giants team, building an ecosystem that encourages women to take up sports in India, BCCI’s progressive pay parity, and her eagerness at taking a sports administrator role.
Noida, February 09, 2023: Mithali Raj, known for her unparalleled batting skills and fierce determination on the cricket field, revealed a new facet of her personality on ‘Duologue with Barun Das’ streaming now on the world’s first news OTT – News9 Plus.
“Mithali’s unique perspective on leadership and well-structured ideas on bridging the gap in a ‘man vs woman’ sporting culture made the duologue an insightful and memorable one,” said Barun Das, MD & CEO of TV9 Network who also dons host’s hat on the series.
Asked if she is ready to take up the role of an administrator after a successful cricketing career, Raj said, “Yes. If I can be part of any role in administration to chalk out the structure for the grass root level or to (create) a yearly calendar for women’s cricket… and always (be) there for women cricketers whenever they feel the need to talk something out.”
While recounting the multiple successes she encountered in her 23-year-long professional journey, Raj also candidly shared some of her regrets. “Despite being part of six world cups that I have played, I couldn’t get… the trophy. That probably is one thing that is missing in my cabin,” she expressed.
Being forthright comes naturally to the former captain. On the very first episode, she discloses her reasons for announcing her retirement from cricket on social media on 8th June 2022. But moving beyond bygones, Raj spoke on the critical role media plays in shaping public perception of female athletes and expressed her desire for furthering equal representation and opportunities as her male counterparts.
“Why BCCI is able to have a pay parity now is because for a long time the (women’s) team has been doing well. They have gradually started to market it because the team is giving results and marketing helped to let people come and watch or probably view it on any platform or television and that’s how you got digital rights. Other federations also need to do that,” she said.
About her confidence of women’s cricket attracting audiences, Raj said that marketing and timing are important. “If you don’t show the matches in prime time and if it is not a weekend, then I’m not sure if we can have crowds turning up for the matches,” she said on the upcoming Women’s Premier League slated for March 2023. However, she if confident about the format. “The WPL definitely will unearth a lot of stars of the future & increase the pool of talent that we have in our domestic structure,” she added.
Barun Das complimented Mithali Raj’s leadership style and drew similarities with his own. On the ultimate episode of the series titled ‘Lessons in Leadership,’ Das asked Raj on her huddle with team members before a match. “Do you tell your team ‘Let’s go and fight’ or do you tell them ‘Let’s go and win’?” he asks. The former captain’s response is sure to go up on pin boards in dressing rooms of cricketing teams the world over.