Mithali Raj acknowledges the crowd after scoring 100 runs in Derby, Britain. File / Reuters
Legendary India batter Mithali Raj on Wednesday called time on her storied international career, bringing an end to a glorious 23-year career.
Having made her debut as a 16-year-old in 1999, Mithali’s career has spanned nearly 23 years across four different decades during which time she became the central cog in the growth of the women’s game in the country and beyond.
Mithali is the all-time leading run-scorer in women’s one-day internationals and one of the most recognised figures in Indian sport. A Bollywood biopic following the 39-year-old’s trailblazing career is set to hit cinemas next month.
She last captained India against South Africa in the Women’s World Cup in March when the team failed to make the semi-finals of the 50-over showpiece.
“Today is the day I retire from all forms of international cricket,” Raj, who quit Twenty20 internationals in 2019, wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
“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 added.
“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.”
Mithali led India to two 50-over World Cup finals and finishes with 7,805 runs including seven centuries in 232 ODI matches. She began her career in 1999 in a one-day international against Ireland.
Mithali is India’s only double centurion in women’s Tests, with her 214 against England in 2002. She says she intends to stay involved with cricket somehow.
“This journey may have ended but another one beckons as I’d love to stay involved in the game I love and contribute to the growth of women’s cricket in India and world over,” said Raj. “Special mention to all my fans, thank you for all your love & support.”
Mithali finished international career with a staggering 10,868 runs – the most in women’s cricket. She scored 7,805 ODI runs in 232 matches, at an average just over 50 while has 2364 runs in 89 T20Is, as well as 699 runs in 12 Tests, including a century and four half-centuries.
Meanwhile, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday Mithali for an outstanding 23-year international career during which she broke several records.
ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice said Raj is a hero for cricketers around the world and hoped she would continue to contribute to the game in the years to come.
“Mithali is one of the all-time greats of the game. Over the past 23 years, many young girls and boys have been inspired to take up the sport after watching her,” said Allardice in a ICC statement.
“Mithali has played a huge role in raising the profile of women’s cricket during a crucial period of its growth and I sincerely hope she will stay involved with the game in the coming years. On behalf of the ICC, I congratulate her for a fantastic career,” he added.