India women's captain Mithali Raj has made it clear that female cricketers should hold their own and not be compared to their male counterparts.
On the eve of the Women's World Cup, Raj, who was attending the opening dinner and media roundtable event, was asked who her favourite men's cricketer was between India and Pakistan, and had a snappy response.
"Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?" she said to the journalist in question. "I have always been asked who's your favourite cricketer but you should ask them who their favourite female cricketer is."
Though Raj plays for what is the most popular and well-supported cricketing nation in the world, she was equally quick to point out that the Indian women do not receive the same amount of publicity as their superstar men.
"There's a lot of difference because we are not a regular on television. Now the BCCI has made an effort that the last two home series have been televised and social media has improved a lot of it but there is a still a lot of catch-up to do in terms of recognition," she said.
Despite that, she conceded to needing to lean on the expertise of the men's game, especially in the coaching department. Earlier this year, Tushar Arothe replaced Purnima Rau as the Indian women's coach and Raj admitted the team has benefitted under his guidance.
"Men's cricket sets the bar. We are always trying to reach where they set the standard. All of us follow men's cricket because we want at some point that women's cricket would be up there," she said. "All of us at some point have been coached by a male cricketer. I strongly believe that they get a lot of intensity into the training sessions. They are very hard taskmasters.
"I believe that if you are representing your country, your country should get the best of the best. It's nothing to do with women coaches [who] don't have the ability, they do. but if you really want to push the team to the highest level, you need to have somebody who is a tough taskmaster so that the girls really put in the intensity in their training sessions and they carry that into the main tournaments."