Mithali Raj is considering the idea of playing a fifth World Cup in 2021, given her form and fitness coordinates with her ambition in the coming years. Moreover, she is content with the attention women's cricket is receiving now and revealed that preparations for World Cup will start from December.
India's women's cricket team captain Mithali Raj has expressed her desire to play in the 2021 World Cup if her form and fitness allows. Earlier, Raj had mentioned that the final match of the 2017 edition in June-July would be her last. However, the 34-year-old seems to have had a change of heart since then.
Speaking to PTI, Raj said, "I am not writing off playing the next World Cup but I will have to get through these next three years to get into the fourth year for that World Cup," Raj told PTI. It is also important for me to see and analyse how my form is by then (2021), so right now I am looking at the World T20 and the other matches I get to play in 2018."
Since July this year, the Indian team have received no action as of yet and are preparing for the next series against South Africa coming February. Their exceptional performance in World Cup has made them household names. They have been felicitated numerous times by one and all since their return from England, which has been unlike the World Cup 12 years back, where India's final appearance went unnoticed.
Raj expressed, "It has been really busy since July but it feels nice to be appreciated and treated at par with men's cricket. People want to know more about the lives of women cricketers. It was not the case back in 2005."
She also revealed that their preparations for the Championship opener against South Africa will begin in December where the side will play three games in from Feb 5-10. "The domestic season starts in December and that will act as preparation for the South Africa tour. It will also be the beginning of getting back into the game for players after a three-month lay off," she said.
BCCI's special committee for women's cricket recently made some amends in the domestic structure, as a result, making the U-16 category a pan India affair. Apart from this, A tours have been introduced for the fringe India players as well. Raj, being the member of the committee, feels that A tours will help in preparing the squad for the next World Cup.
"With the introduction of India A tours, after the players get into the main national squad, there will be positions available in the A squad and the youngsters can get exposure and experience. Eventually, they will become the second string. So, you always have a back-up in case of an injury. And with this policy in place, we will have at least a bunch of 20 -25 girls who will be competing against each other to build a strong squad for the next World Cup."
The ICC has been promoting women's cricket by using limited over format and the Test matches are far and few between, with India playing their last five-day game back in 2014. Raj claims that the longest format remains the ultimate test for a cricketer. "I think every team wants to focus on
"But to market women's cricket, you need to have the limited overs format going on. People want to see fast-paced cricket," Raj added, while saying that she doesn't see the chance of women's IPL happening in the near future," added Raj.