When you think about record-getters in cricket, the names that spring to mind are Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. Now add Mithali Raj to that list. The 38 year old captain of the Indian women’s test and ODI team became the leading run-scorer in women’s international cricket on Saturday.
Playing in the third ODI against England, Raj crossed the previous record of 10,273 runs in the 24th over of the Indian innings. The record was held by former England captain Charlotte Edwards. Mithali Raj finished her innings with an unbeaten 75 helping India win the game. England however won the series 2-1.
Raj has represented India for 22 years. It has taken her 317 matches across the three formats (test, ODI, T20) to reach the score of 10,337 runs. Compare that to the score of the highest run-getter in men’s cricket – Sachin Tendulkar who piled up 34,357 runs in 664 matches. So Raj has roughly one third the score in about half the number of matches.
But when you read this, keep in mind that women’s cricket became a professional sport only recently. The English cricket board was the first to give women cricketers professional contracts that enabled them to make a living by playing the sport, the way male cricketers do. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) followed in 2015. Giving contracts attracts more talent to the game as women realize they can earn well if they play well.
Mithali Raj was playing long before such contracts came into force. Her amazing achievement is therefore all the greater. More power to her!