Passionate Mithali plays in her sleep too

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Monday, December 2, 2002, 17:58 [IST]
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Hyderabad: Batting sensation Mithali Raj seems to have found a new high - both on and off the field. Her record breaking 214 versus England at Taunton has catapulted her into stardom, especially in her home state Andhra Pradesh.

However, the awards, cash incentives and tremendous publicity received by the Rajs have hardly changed them one bit. They seem not only to be Champions on the field but also off it too - humility and simplicity adorns the Rajs.

Thatscricket .com met the Rajs at their residence to get a peak at the long and short of their cricketing success.

It all started off with her brother Mithun. Little Mithali used to pay keen attention watching her brother hone his cricketing skills. "The basic idea behind Mithali being present alongside her brother was to counter her excessive sleeping habits," recollects her mother Leela Raj.

"I never used to like her lazing around in the morning so I decided to send her also along with her brother. And she used to be happy to tag along with her brother without making a fuss. That kept all of us occupied and happy," adds mother Raj.

The Rajs wanted their children to take up to outdoor activity so that they could be exposed to the nitty gritties of the exterior world. They wanted an overall development of personality and never looked at fame or any such thing that would arise if they were to excel.

To put it in Leela's words, "We did not want our children to be stuck with their books for 12 to 14 hours and not be able to handle the world. I wanted them to have a positive approach to the ups and downs of life and simultaneously develop a desire to do something creative and constructive in life."

However, Mithali's keenness towards cricket prompted the Rajs to pay extra attention towards her progress. From then on things then just kept falling into place. Of course she has put in loads of effort and sacrificed a lot of her childhood ("especially sleep", says Mithali from behind the scene.)

"Children of her age (8+) after school hours, normally, throw their bags around and have their fun. But Mithali missed all that as she had a rigid practice schedule to keep up with," says Leela smilingly.

Leela is proud that in spite of all the childhood sacrifices her daughter had to make she has never cribbed about it. "She never regrets not having fun and is totally dedicated to her game."

Leela gave thatscricket.com an insight into Mithali Raj the person as she recollected some of the things Mithali used to do as a child, which brought laughter to their lives.

Mithali is a person who takes instructions to the core, which is reflected in the small things she does. "In her first league match (8+) she was asked not to do anything except look after her wickets by her captain. She took it verbatim and just stuck to the crease taking care of her wickets offering a defensive blade not aware that there is something called as running between the wickets.

"She comes home and tells, mummy I never knew we had to do running also in cricket," says Leela with a burst of laughter.

Mithali is a passionate person recollects her mother. She was and is very passionate about her game. In her earlier days, her mom once woke her up to give her a glass of milk before going to bed (as she had dozed off before taking her glass of milk). On hearing her mom's voice Mithali just stood up and with her eyes closed picked up her bat, which was lying close by and started off with her stroke practice.

"She almost gave her brother who was sleeping on the floor a knock on her head," says her mother.

Mithali is also fond of pets right from her childhood. Right now she has a pet in Mac a German Shepherd. Once when she was a child her pet bird fell sick. Very caringly Mithali wrapped it around in her handkerchief and was ready to take it to the vet to give it treatment.

"Pets were her only source of relaxation. Time spent with them was her way of unwinding from her hectic workouts," says the proud mother.

That apart, Mithali also used to be a good dancer but there came a stage where she had to choose between cricket and dancing and "we chose cricket".

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