Whether intending to bring luck or to shoo away nerves, many athletes perform rituals before a competition. Some will listen to music or stretch, while others will get hyped up with their teammates and allow their adrenaline to take over. The captain of India’s women’s cricket team, however, takes out a book and reads.
Mithali Raj already has been praised for her remarks during a recent interview. A reporter asked her who her favorite male cricketer was. Raj disregarded the question, and instead asked the reporter if this is something he asks male cricketers as well. This was the perfect clap-back to a question dripping with gender-bias. Recently, Raj has done something that merits even more admiration.
The Women’s Cricket World Cup is currently taking place in England and Wales. On Saturday, Raj caught the attention of fans during the game when she calmly took out a book to read as she waited to bat. The book was the work of a 13th-century Persian poet named Rumi, who wrote about “life’s essentials.” Raj had borrowed the book from a coach while on the field.
“I’m into reading a lot, and even before getting into batting, I’m always with my kindle or books, because it calms me down,”explained Raj.
She was not allowed to bring her e-reader onto the field, which is why she borrowed the paperback book. Obviously her method was successful, because after reading only a few pages, the cricketer stepped up to bat and set a new world record.
The game saw Raj become the first woman to score seven consecutive half-centuries in one day. (A half century is the score of 50 runs by a single batter.) Her performance helped India beat England by 35 runs during the tournament’s opening day. Now, Raj has earned herself the nickname “Captain Cool” from her fans.
When asked about the win, Raj said, “It was a brilliant partnership between our openers. I realized the wicket isn’t much of an assistance to the bowlers so I knew it would be challenging for England.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has now teamed up with Twitter, and special emojis have been created of all eight female captains, which appear when users type their names with a hashtag. The ICC said that this is part of their “unprecedented coverage of the women’s game.”
“You can be cool, but not #MithaliRaj reading a book before batting one down cool,” said a Twitter user.
“It feels great to have an emoji on your name, and it is good for women’s cricket. It gives importance to women cricketers,” Raj said in an interview.
India’s women cricket players have not always been a top priority for the ICC. Women have struggled for to get equal coverage as their male counterparts since they were allowed to play cricket at the professional level in the ‘70s. In 2005, things started to look up for the players when the Board of Control for Cricket finally took over women’s cricket in India. Since then, the players have received better contracts and more advanced facilities to practice in.
We all wish nothing but the best of luck to Mithali Raj and her team as they take on their other competitors in the World Cup.
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