INDIAN CRICKET'S INFIGHTING
Cricbuzz Staff •
Ramesh Powar has accused Mithali Raj of 'blackmailing and pressurising coaches © Getty
India head coach Ramesh Powar accused Mithali Raj of 'blackmailing and pressure coaching' apart from causing division in the team during the recently concluded World T20 in the Caribbean, in a 10-page report to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and COO Saba Karim .
"I hope Mithali Raj stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and also stops putting her interest first than team's," Powar wrote in the report. "I hope she will look at the bigger picture & work towards betterment of the Indian women's cricket."
The report includes Powar's observation of each member of the team. However, almost half of it is reserved specifically for Mithali. He even accuses her of putting her selfish interests ahead of the team.
"She has ignored her role and batted for own milestones." The lack of momentum, which put extra pressure on other batters, "he adds.
He also made the observation of how she was allowed to open the innings against Pakistan only because of the pressure from the selectors, something that Mithali had earlier mentioned to be her resort when in disquiet for being asked to play in the middle order.
"Against Pakistan, we opened with Mithali Raj due to pressure from traveling selector and Mithali's threatening behavior to return home if not given a chance to open the innings," Powar wrote.
"After Pakistan's game, she was moving around with an attitude, making her own group with selected few players sitting away from the team, as a head coach, I was very disappointed and saddened to see legends like her divide a team into two groups. "
Earlier, on Tuesday, a letter from Mithali to Johri and Karim, she had mentioned her issues with the coach and the indifferent treatment she received from him.
Excerpts of Powar's e-mail communication to Johri and Karim, published by India Today on their website
Mithali Raj – senior player in the team. Minimum inputs in team meetings not a single word of appreciation after finishing at the top of the table.
Could not understand & adapt to team plan. Ignored her role and batted for own milestones. Lack of keeping the momentum going which put extra pressure on other batters. Worked really hard as a coach to address their power hitting, batting skills and running between the wickets in almost every session.
In practice games she was struggling to score quickly, as wickets were low bounce & slow. Intent was missing. Could not lean and execute shots due to limited ability in skills & fitness.
We wanted to make the most of powerplay as powerplay was the most important phase of the match (considering slow pitches) to score big with hard ball & it was a challenge to score against spinners.
It was conveyed to her logically that she would be batting in middle order & she agreed too. (Before New Zealand match)
Mithali's lack of intent to score fast in practice games prompted us to open with Taniya Bhatiya (in first league game vs New Zealand) who always showed intent every time she batted. We used Taniya and Hemlatha in powerplay vs New Zealand which got us 24 runs in 13 balls. It's not always about individual milestones, it's always about team strategies and executions. (team first)
After New Zealand game we had a practice session where Mithali was showing anger and attitude, which was disappointing.
A selection meeting where we picked 11 for Pakistan match, instead of appreciating the effort of the team against New Zealand selector asked us why Mithali is not opening where I gave the explanation of making the most of powerplay and if needed Mithali can beat in middle / lower order . On which selector said that she can only open or can not figure in the team. We as team management convinced her that she is a key player and we will use her experience as and when needed. Many young players look at her as role model and drop her will hamper team environment.
Before Pakistan match video analyst Mr. Pushkar Sawant came to my room with the news that fielding coach Mr Biju George conveyed to him that Mithali is upset about not changing the batting order & not allowing her to open in Pakistan match. She has packed her bags to leave with announcement of retirement in the morning. I was shocked to understand why? Team had just struck one of the top teams (New Zealand) and Mithali Raj a legend complaining about her batting position (which she agreed) and threatening to leave. (instead, should be happy with the positive start of World Cup campaign of Team India)
I was saddened and hurt by her attitude. It gave me an impression that for Mithali Raj she comes first and then team India. I called the team manager early in the morning and discussed the issue. I did not convey this to captain and vice captain as I did not want them to lose their focus of the most important match, India vs Pakistan of the group stage. During breakfast on match day I told Harman & Smriti that we will open with Mithali and they agreed. Conveyed Mithali also about her opening the innings against Pakistan.
Against Pakistan, to save the positive team environment, we opened with Mithali Raj due to pressure from traveling selector and Mithali's threatening behaviors to go back home if not given a chance to open the innings.
Against Pakistan, chasing 134 with 10 runs headstart 6 overs we were 48 for no loss. From 6th to 15th over Mithali played 24 balls and scored only 25 runs (no intent to score fast) that hurt us in net run rate. Whole team specially batting unit was confused & angry as what she was trying to achieve by scoring fifty and not sticking to team plan. (dominance)
After Pakistan game she was moving around with an attitude. Making her own group with selected few players sitting away from the team. As a head coach I was very disappointed & saddened to see legends like her divide a team into two groups.
After Pakistan match, Mithali asked for a meeting with me through team manager Trupthy Bhattacharya which I obliged. She conveyed that she is not very good player for this format compared to one day format where I convinced her that she is the most experienced player in the team and can easily adapt as she scored a good hundred vs. Sri Lanka, batting in the middle order in ODI series. (who reminded me she (captain) did not take the field for first 11 0vers due to fatigue after batting & we lost the match as all bowling plans were known to her that she did not share with vice captain Harmanpreet due to her sour relationship) . She agreed to beat in middle order after hearing team plan from me.
Still we wanted to give one more chance to prove their ability as opening batter vs. Ireland to execute the teams strategies that is to beat with intent (dominance) but against weak Ireland bowling attack she scored running a ball 50 (56 balls 51 runs) and played 25 dots which added extra pressure & cost us Smriti, Jemimah's wicket & net run rate.
She again questioned batting the plan of dominance after the match.
After Ireland game, as a senior player showed no interest to consult with team management to play or rest in very important game vs Australia.
Physio informs us that she is not available for selection due to mild fever & minor injury to knee, which she got recovered in one day (quite strange).
As a coach I asked her to take a rest in the hotel so she could get better and recover quickly but she did not listen and came to the ground for Australia match, which was surprising.
When we finished last league match in Guyana we called team members including support staff to the ground to thank & appreciate Indian people, who were present. Mithali was reluctant to come down.
After reaching Antigua for semifinals I had created 2 groups for low intensity practice session with 1st group consisting of 5 players for batting skills specifications and another group for warm up, team game & fielding.
Mithali was in 2nd group but she wanted to come with us in the first group. I requested her to come with 2nd group to warm up and skip the team game and come for the batting skills with practice bowlers as everyone was involved in team game. (she was supposed to do fielding with team after batting that she did not) i stayed and watched her bat for 10 mins and went to the ground to check how is going on in the stadium. Mr Vikas Pandit was there to supervise her session. I came back with physio to watch her beat again. After completing batting in net physio and me asked how she is feeling as it was her first net session after a break. She responded with nod as if our question does not matter to her.
A day before semifinal as I went to breakfast area, team manager Mrs. Trupthy Bhattacharya wanted to talk to me, which I obliged. she looked very tense.
As per team manager's words, she received abusive and threatening call from a person named Nusheen (former player) saying that what you did with Mithali as she cried all night and her mother worried Nusheen also threatened that you all will face consequences.
Out of panic team manager took physio to her room to check on her .as described by team manager Mithali wanted to go home as she was very upset that coach does not look after a legend player like her.
She threw lots of tantrums and created chaos. Team manager and physio tried their best to calm her.
Once Mithali heard this, the team manager came to me and described the whole episode, we immediately called Mr Saba Karim (GM, Cricket Operations, BCCI) and informed the matter. Saba sir told us to sort the matter out amicably. Saba sir also told us to concentrate on crucial and important world cup semi final match.
With some time Mithali Raj shot a message on the phone's team manager that she does not want to speak with coach.
Her irresponsible behavior took my time away as I thought to speak with few players about preparations of all important semi final matches, which could not happen.
When I needed to prepare a team meeting notes, I took a leave.
Mr. Biju George (fielding coach) gave feedback that Mithali Raj was not interested in fielding drills with intensity that hampering intensity and rhythm of the fielding session. He tried to convince her every time but she did not improve. In matches she could not field outside circle or at any significant positions due to poor agility and limited fielding skills.
I hope Mithali Raj stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and also stops putting her interest first than team's.
I hope she will look at the bigger picture & work towards betterment of the Indian women's cricket.
Semi final playing eleven – as a team management we want to see how the pitch plays in the first semi finale as it was a fresh pitch that delayed our selection meeting. On completion of the first semi final we all concerned people had a selection meeting and decided to go with a winning combination that had struck strong team like Australia. Pitch was helping Spinners and Anuja Patil, a spinner played a big role in match against Australia. Team was announced before the toss.