Jhulan Goswami – an icon, who not only shaped Indian women’s cricket but made one entire generation dream

Jhulan Goswami, a veteran of 283 international games for India will play his last on September 24 against England at Lord’s | Courtesy: BCCI Women

Photo: Twitter

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Legendary Indian pacer Jhulan Goswami will be playing the final game of his career on September 24
  • Goswami will end her career as the highest wicket-taker in the history of women’s cricket
  • Goswami will bring an end to an illustrious career that not only shaped women’s cricket in India but also made young girls dream of becoming a cricketer.
Clocking 111 km/hr, foxing batters with the swing, making them play in tough overcast conditions and bowling a spell of 5-2-8-1 – Jhulan Goswami was doing all this in her third last game. Goswami ended that game with figures of 1/20 in every 10 overs. Granted England are not playing their best XI but economy of 2 in a match, which is the beginning of the end of your career is just ridiculous.

This is still okay. Almost a month ago, Goswami put a video of her training ahead of what is her final hurrah for the Women in Blue. Goswami was bowling. That’s what she does, that’s what she has done for 20 years and will keep doing until her last ball. She was charging in, ball after ball to get ready for the three matches in England. Interestingly, she tuned her training montage to Sia’s chartbuster track ‘Unstoppable’. That’s the only way you can describe the 39-year-old workhorse, who will keep giving her best until her last and even she knows that.

Goswami will end her career as the highest wicket-taker in women’s cricket with 353 scalps, including the most in ODIs (253, which are 62 more than the second best). However, it would be foolishness to sum her career up in statistics but yes they do tell a story of longevity, consistency and quality, which she has been an epitome of in her 20-year long career.

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Most wickets in women’s cricket history

353* – Jhulan Goswami (India)

329* – Katherine Brunt (England)

313* – Ellyse Perry (Australia)

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309* – Shabnim Ismail (South Africa)

305* – Anisa Mohammed (West Indies)

** Statistics as of September 22, 2022

Coming from a small town of Chakdaha in Bengal which eventually gave her the name ‘Chakdaha Express’, also the name of the film being made on her by Netflix, it wasn’t easy for her to travel to Kolkata (80 kms daily). The physical distance is not much of a challenge when you have determination of that of Goswami, the societal pressure is, the lack of infrastructure is, the absence of supportive parents is. It’s not easy being a sportsperson in India and if you are a woman, the difficulty levels just multiply.

“In a Bengali middle class family, a girl is expected to be involved in extracurricular activities like dancing or singing apart from education. So what I wanted to do was ‘unusual’. I tried to explain to them and gave them a clear picture of why I took the decision. Moreover, the distance between Chakdaha and Kolkata was not easy to cover as a school going girl on a regular basis. There was also no professional guarantee as well,” she said Female Cricket.

She did all this to get her basic training. Obviously, long travel hours, bizarre timings affected her sleep schedule and studies but she knew those sleepless nights were worth taking a risk for as the opposition batters started feeling the same when she entered the international arena in 2002. Goswami was naturally fast. Bowling at 120 km/hr regularly without breaking a sweat wasn’t easy but this is what she was told – bowl fast.

Goswami had her ups and downs, she had her good and bad days but one thing she didn’t have in her career was an indifferent day. She wasn’t ineffective, she was never a bowler that you could take easy even if you are dominating and even if she is having an off day. That is her quality. Not just on the field, as a fast bowler running day-in and day-out for your country and the success she had inspired the young girls not just in India but in sub-continent (Pakistan’s Kainat Imtiaz’s emotional post after 2017 World Cup match for the pacer) to not only think about taking up the sport as a fast bowler but actually doing it and being good at it.

Now, she will walk into the sunset after playing her 284th game, leaving a legacy that probably will live on forever and leaving the Indian team in a better place, which has three fast bowlers running in, deceiving opposition batters like she has done all her career Goswami’s partner-in-crime Mithali Raj didn’t get a farewell match but she is and what better place to bid adieu than Lord’s. So long, Ms. Goswami, you have done an entire nation proud!

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