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Jhulan Goswami: Legend who inspired millions of women bids adieu to international cricket

BY MAHADEV DESAI

India’s Jhulan Goswami, arguably one of the fastest bowlers in women’s cricket bid adieu from one-day cricket, at London’s iconic Lords ground on September 24, 2022. Jhulan played her 204th and final ODI. (India won the series three nil against England).

Jhulan Goswami, is a right-arm medium fast bowler and right-handed batter. She was born on November 25, 1982, in Chakdah, West Bengal. She was attracted to cricket when she watched Australian batter Belinda Clark in the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup. Chakdah did not have any facilities, so she used to get up around 4.30 a.m. and travel to and fro by train to Calcutta for practice and matches. She soon made her mark with her towering presence and bowling with grit and aggression and her confidence-boosting role helped India team win many matches.   

When 19, she made her international debut on 6th January 2002, in a One-day International Match against England in Chennai, and test debut also against England on 14th January, in Lucknow. Jhulan wanted to be a fast bowler so she went to MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai for tips from Australian pace bowler Dennis Lillee. She led the India Women’s Team from 2008-2011.

On 10th April, 2005, India lost the Women’s Cricket World Cup Final against Australia, played in S. Africa, by 98 runs; and on 23rd July 2017, India lost the ICC Women’s World Cup Final against England at Lords, by 9 runs. Jhulan Goswami who had played in both the finals said that she was retiring with one regret, “Regret in the sense (I) played in two World Cup finals (and) if we had won one of them that would have been great for us”.

Test Debut 14-1-2002 v England                    Last Test 30-9-2021 V Australia

ODI Debut 6-1-2002   v England                    Last ODI  24-9-2022 v England

T20I Debut 5-8-2006   v England                Last T 20I 10-6-2018 v Bangladesh

Bowling                  Women’s Test                   WODI                  WT20I

Matches                      12                                   204                     68

Wkts.                          44                                   255                      56

Batting

Matches                     12                                   204                       68

Runs                          291                                1228                     405

On March 12, 2022 she became highest wicket-taker in Women’s World Cup history.

Among the prestigious Awards to veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami in appreciation of her illustrious career:

ICC Women’s Player of the Year 2007

2010 Arjuna Award

M.A. Chidambaram Trophy for Best Woman Cricketer in 2011

Padma Shri Award in 2012

Many appreciatory messages and posts poured in after her retirement. India’s former Captain Mithali Raj reflecting on Jhulan’s glorious cricket career said, “It is the end of an era,”. “The impact she has had in women’s cricket at the global level is immense. She has been a great ambassador for the sport and youngsters took to fast bowling after seeing her bowl for India.” She further commented, “Jhulan Goswami’s commitment to the game and her eternal optimism are lessons for all those who wish to excel in the sport… the Indian jersey will miss her dearly.”

Then President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil presenting the Padma Shri Award to Jhulan Goswami, at an Investiture Ceremony I, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi on March 22, 2012. Wikipedia photo.

In a glowing tribute, India Women’s Cricket Captain, Harmanpreet Kaur said, “Goswami has been a true inspiration for all the players including herself. “She’s someone who has taught us a lot. When I debuted, she was a leader and I learned a lot from her”  

Anushka Sharma, who will portray Goswami in the biopic ‘Chakda Xpress’ tweeted “An inspiration. A role-model. A legend. Your name will be etched in history forever”. 

“It’s not just what she does on the pitch, she’s an absolutely lovely human,” said England batter Tammy Beaumont. “She’s been great for the game and she’ll be a very big loss but I think it’s great that she gets to have a good send off at Lord’s.”

Post retirement, Goswami has been appointed as a bowling consultant for India Women’s national cricket team, under the head coach Ramesh Powar.

“Women’s cricket in India slowly and gradually picking up. We can motivate young girls to play sport and have a career option in cricket,” said Goswami.

Chakda Xpress, the biopic of Jhulan Goswami, directed by Prosit Roy will premiere on Netflix.

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