Mithali Raj is the first women and fourth player overall in all forms of cricket to have played over 20 years in ODIs. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Mithali Raj is without a doubt one of the greatest women cricketers in the world. Her list of achievements is staggering. She is the leading run-getter in women's cricket when it comes to ODIs and she is in a prestigious list when it comes to the number of centuries being hit in limited overs. Due to the exploits of Mithali, India women's cricket is on the world map. During the first ODI between India and South Africa at the Reliance stadium in Vadodara, Mithali achieved a special milestone in her career.
Mithali's match against South Africa was played in her 20th year of ODI cricket. At 20 years and 105 days, Mithali Raj now has the longest career by a women cricketer in history. She is the only player in history to have played more than 200 ODIs, with Charlotte Edwards of England a distant second with 191 matches. Mithali had made her debut in June 1999 against Ireland at Milton Keynes.
When one talks about Mithali's longetivity in the ODI format, she is fourth in the all-time lost when it comes to both men's and women's cricket. Sachin Tendulkar of India holds the record for the longest span in ODIs with 22 years and 91 days, having made his debut in December 1989 to March 2012. Sanath Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka is second with 21 years and 184 days, having made his debut in December 1989 and he played till June 2011. Before Jayasuriya and Tendulkar, Pakistan's Javed Miandad had the longest span with 20 years and 272 days, having played from June 1975 to March 1996.
When one talks about Test matches, Wilfred Rhodes of England had the longest career with 30 years. Rhodes' career spanned both millenniums, having made his debut in 1899 and playing till 1930, with a span of 30 years and 315 days.
Mithali retired from Twenty20 Internationals last month but she is still playing Tests and ODIs. The right-hander has been part of two World Cup finals in 2005 and 2017 but India lost both games in South Africa and England to Australia and the hosts. During the 2018 World T20, Mithali was involved in an ugly spat with the-then coach Ramesh Powar and Harmanpreet Kaur after she was left out of the semi-final between India and England in the World T20 held in West Indies.