NEW DELHI: Mithali Raj, one of the greatest female cricketers to have played the game, on last Wednesday announced retirement from all forms of international cricket, having made a significant contribution in popularising the women’s game during a storied 23-year-long career.
The trailblazer ended her glorious career with a record 7805 runs from 232 ODIs, the most in the format.
With an overall tally of 10868 runs, she is also the leading-run getter in women’s cricket across formats.
The 39-year-old featured in 89 T20 Internationals and even though she got to play only 12 Tests in her long career, she managed to score a double hundred and remains the only woman cricketer from India to do so in the longer format.
She had retired from the T20 format in 2019 and her decision to stop playing all formats was expected after India’s underwhelming ODI World Cup campaign in March. She was the captain of the team in the ICC mega event.
“I set out as a little girl on the journey to wear the India blues as representing your country is the highest honour. The journey was full of highs and some lows,” Mithali wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Each event taught me something unique and the last 23 years have been the most fulfilling, challenging & enjoyable years of my life. Like all journeys, this one too must come to an end. Today is the day I retire from all forms of International Cricket.”
The cricketer attained legendary status with her exploits with the bat for over two decades.
When she made her India debut back in 1999, women’s cricket was a neglected sport but now it has become a career choice with millions of girls aspiring to be like her.
“Each time I stepped on the field, I gave my very best with the intent to help India win. I will always cherish the opportunity given to me to represent the tricolour,” she further wrote in her statement.
“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.
“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 said another journey beckons her as she would love to stay involved with the game.
“I love and contribute to the growth of Women’s Cricket in India and world over. Special mention to all my fans, thank you for all your love & support.”
Mithali played in as many as six ODI World Cups and also holds the record of scoring seven half-centuries in a row.
She is the only Indian captain – male or female – to have led India in two World Cup finals (2005 and 2017).
The team’s performance in 2017 had given a huge fillip to the women’s game.
However, a fairy tale ending eluded her five years later in New Zealand, where India made an early exit from the competition after an inconsistent campaign.