Stupendous performance

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Stupendous performance

Cricketer Mithali Raj registers milestone achievement. There’s more to come

Indian women's cricket team skipper Mithali Raj's recent achievement — to become the highest run-scorer in women's One Day International (ODI) — turned out to be so outstanding that her success overshadowed India's loss to Australia in the Women's Cricket World Cup. The quest, though, is not over. Crediting a perfect 6,000 runs to her name, Raj registered world history and broke former England captain and opener, Charlotte Edwards' record of 5,992 runs. Indeed, this milestone achievement is a tribute to her success and a feather in her already decorated cap. There have been so many records of Raj's successes that, when plotted on a graph, they will only show a steep upward trend. Take, for example, her recent achievement; Raj scored her runs at a phenomenal average of 51 in the 183rd ODI match. On the other hand, Edward, could do so at an average of 38 in the 191th ODI match. Ever since she made her debut over a decade ago, Raj has been performing consistently. She scored seven consecutive 50s in the ODIs. At the age of 19, during her third test match, she broke Karen Rolton's record of the world's highest individual test figure, by scoring a new high of 214 runs. Not surprisingly, as the head of the Indian women’s cricket team, she is the torch-bearer for her players. On similar lines, ace bowler, Jhulan Goswami, too has wonderful achievements to her credit. Goswami is the leading wicket-taker in women ODIs, with 189 wickets.

However, despite the fact that such stupendous batting and bowling records are rare, there is worry that not enough attention/seriousness is being paid to convert the potential. It has indeed been a long battle for women to gain international recognition in a field that has till date been governed by patronising attitudes. What else explains the delay on the part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to give women players their due? Only recently, the BCCI decided to confer lifetime achievement awards to women cricketers. Such awards will surely boost the morale of women cricketers, and the BCCI must build on this. It is also a fact that despite major achievements, the women's cricket team does not get the public/media attention, except when they play tournaments at the international level. Celebrations, yes, happen, from selected quarters — and die soon, only to rise again when another sportswoman breaks the glass ceiling. Much of the lack of publicity is also due to the few number of matches that women cricketers get to play. To this end, the BCCI must explore options so that these players get more opportunities to enhance skills. Currently, the women in blue participate only in the international women’s cricket league matches. The scope can be broadened at the national level by conducting matches like we have in the Indian Premier League matches for men’s cricket. The same scenario prevails in other sports as well. It’s time India more robustly encouraged women in sports.

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