Mithali Raj on Test kit presentation: Reminds players their importance in women's cricket history

New head coach Ramesh Powar conceived the ceremony to help the Indian team 'find a purpose'

The aim is to "leave the jersey in a better place," Jemimah Rodrigues wrote on social media on Monday, after receiving her Test whites from Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami.
She wasn't the only India Women player to celebrate. After all, it's a rare opportunity for the team - a Test match, something that had appeared a thing of the past till the other day. Since their innings win over South Africa at home in Mysuru in November 2014, the team hasn't played any Tests - no team has, apart from Australia and England.
"From the players' perspective, it's just an occasion to make them feel very special about the white jersey or getting into a format which I personally fell is the most challenging, respected and oldest format," Raj said at the team's pre-departure press conference on Tuesday. "It has its own charm. When the girls who are getting into the team playing that format for the first time, it's very special for them.
"Unfortunately, I never had this sort of a ceremony way back in the 1990s, but it's good to have it because the girls feel the excitement that's there in the group and it's very important to have that idea what Tests mean to the players, to the team, and the importance of former cricketers who've laid the path for so many years, kept the sport alive for the current generations and to inspire the future generations. It is also an atmosphere built to make them realise that they play an important role in the history of women's cricket."
Head coach Ramesh Powar, who replaced WV Raman head coach in the position last month, is understood to have been the brains behind the kit-presentation ceremony.
"Whenever I have taken over a new team, I have tried to find a purpose," Powar said. "It's as simple as that. I have done something [like this] with the Mumbai [men's] team and before that also. So this was something I thought was missing in [Indian] women's cricket where they've never been presented with the T-shirts or been told the journey of women's cricket.
"There has to be purpose when you get into that BCCI and India T-shirt that why you are playing this game, why you are in this team, or what the purpose is going forward. I believe in purpose; if you don't have purpose you will not create that atmosphere in the team, you will not be able to perform consistently over a longer period of time."
For the likes of Raj and Goswami, both ten Tests old, it's a return to a familiar space, and while some of the others, like Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana and Shikha Pandey and Poonam Yadav, have had a taste of the format, it will be a fresh experience for them too. As for Deepti Sharma or Rodrigues or Shafali Verma, it's a brand-new day altogether.
After India play England, they are also scheduled to play a day-night Test in Australia, their first pink-ball game in the format.