Girls Aloud

Touring Australia, and my time as captain

Captaincy was an eventful roller-coaster ride

Mithali Raj
Mithali Raj receives the Women's Asia Cup from Gamini Lokuge, Sri Lanka's sports minister, Sri Lanka Women v India Women, Women's Asia Cup final, Kurunegala, May 11, 2008

ESPNcricinfo Ltd

We are quite excited about playing Australia and even though this will be the first series in three years where I will not be captain, I can tell you it feels just the same. Nervous jitters and anticipation never go away.
I feel the series will be evenly contested because while India have just had a miserable tour of England, Australia are yet to recover from the Ashes defeat. In fact that may work to our advantage and the first few games will be vital.
I thought I would share some of my memories as Indian captain with you. I had got a few opportunities to lead the side before I took over at the World Cup and it was a great confidence-booster that nearly everybody said I had the qualities required in a captain. But my memories of captaining during the World Cup are a blur. I think I just went through the motions without really thinking about it. It was an emotional and action-packed experience and I never got the time to introspect.
After the World Cup I could take time to enjoy my role in the team. Our first series was against England at home which we won 4-1. Then came the Asia Cup, which we won for the second successive time but our tours of Australia and New Zealand were rather forgettable. All our Asia Cup campaigns have been successful and we need to see how we can translate the confidence we got from there to series in Australia, where we will be playing the World Cup in four months.
The most memorable moment of my captaincy was our Test series win in England. Anjum Chopra scored 98 and Jhulan Goswami took ten wickets in the match. In a five-day game the fortunes of a side fluctuate and that we held the advantage to make England follow on was truly special. The biggest regret would have to be our loss in the World Cup final. It hurts a lot once you have got so close to the title. But overall captaincy was an eventful roller-coaster ride. It feels great when people recognise you as the leader of the Indian team but on the flipside you also get blamed for losses even when you’re helpless to avoid them. I tried to learn from both experiences and move on. In fact I would say that success all the time would have been monotonous.
Setbacks make you think harder about what you’re doing What was most satisfactory was when we worked out a particular strategy for a team or a player and it clicked on the field. But more than anything I was proud to earn the respect of my players. I can honestly say that though I had a lot of friends in the side I never pushed anyone’s case for selection on the basis of my relationship with the player. I have tried to be true to my post and the fact that I never had to work to get the players to rally around me proves we had a great relationship.
Now its time to concentrate on my batting and hope we reverse our form from the England tour.