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Jhulan Goswami Is A Towering Figure Of Indian Women’s Cricket

Jhulan Goswami was born in a struggling family in the small town of Chakdah, West Bengal. At that time, Bengal was extremely sports-enthusiastic, and equally interested in different types of sports. Goswami was interested in football from a very young age. 

A veteran in women’s cricket, she is a name that my parents introduced me to, and I devoted my childhood awe to her. An awe that transcended the boundaries of age, and still remains, Jhulan Goswami.

These past 2 weeks have been exhausting for sports lovers as one by one their beloved have been bidding their game a goodbye. We cried, but also celebrated the long glorious careers of figures like Federer, Serena Williams.

We thanked them for the moments of joy that they have served (tennis pun alert) us with over the stretch of their time. Meanwhile, another towering figure retired in silence. Let us look back at the life and the journey of Jhulan Goswami.

Jhulan Goswami’s story is unlike any regular story.

Jhulan was born in a struggling family in the small town of Chakdah, West Bengal. At that time, Bengal was extremely sports-enthusiastic, and equally interested in different types of sports. Goswami was interested in football from a very young age.

But after the 1992 World Cricket Cup, her interest in the game grew.

Goswami was selected as a ball girl for the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup Final. The Australian team’s victory lap, inspired a 15-year-old, Jhulan, to pursue cricket as a profession. She started playing cricket with the boys of her neighbourhood, which was not received well.

She signed up for formal training in Vivekananda Park in Kolkata, and had to travel for 5 hours each day to follow her true passion.

Jhulan Goswami found support from her grandmother

Jhulan had to face a lot of stigmas surrounding her choices. A school-girl, Jhulan, was taunted for travelling alone in trains for her Cricket practice. This came not only from the other fellow passengers on the train, but also, very unsurprisingly, from her own family members as well.

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But it was grandmother who encouraged her to keep playing cricket. At one point, her first coach, Swapan Sadhu, convinced her parents. Jhulan had 2 years to prove herself capable in the field before they intervened.

How was Jhulan Goswami’s journey as cricketer

Once she joined the Bengal women’s cricket team, there was no stopping her. Goswami made her international debut in Chennai, in a 2002 ODI match against England. Her test debut came soon after.

In the 2006-2007 season, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami led the women’s cricket team to their first test series win in England. Here she took her career best 10 wicket-haul, the youngest to-do so.

In the same year, she was awarded the ICC Women’s Player of the Year. For a brief period of 2008-2011, she was made the team captain. In 2010, she received the Arjuna Award, followed by the Padma Shri honour 2 years later.

Jhulan Goswami Is A Towering Figure Of Indian Women's Cricket

When ICC introduced the ranking system to women’s cricket as well, she held the number one rank tight. At the peak of her career, she was the fastest bowler in her circuit, having clocked deliveries as fast as 120 km/h.

In an interview, she opened up about how the obsession of sticking to the first rank got to her and shifted her focus from the game.

And it takes a legend to confess that.

Inspiring the younger generation

Up until recently, the women’s cricket team had to struggle a lot. Without proper infrastructure to support them, the girls had to fend for themselves.

Goswami believed that if given the opportunity of a long tournament like Women’s-IPL, many more girls who have the talent can come forward. They can participate in the game, and represent India, “I feel that these girls need to be taken care of well and the more they play, they will only get better.”

Jhulan Goswami Is A Towering Figure Of Indian Women's Cricket

Her sentiments were shared by Mithali Raj. She remembers the appreciation that they received, when 15,000 spectators turned up for the 2017 Women’s World Cup Final.

It was this very defeat at the WWC Final that brought the women’s team to the notice of the Indian masses.

They received immense support, and their long overdue recognition. Goswami’s efforts are not all in vain, considering that W-IPL is in their final talks at the BCCI.

Jhulan Goswami Is A Towering Figure Of Indian Women's Cricket

The undying passion of a sportsperson

How strong can a passion to do something be?

In cricket, it is believed that a fast bowler is prone to more injuries, which automatically brings down their career longevity.

It would take her more than an hour for Goswami’s physios to complete her taping. She would need them on both her ankles, elbows, and rhomboid muscles in the back; but she notes that it is her passion that motivates her to be out there on the field and play for her nation.

Mithali Raj recounted how the tallest in the team, Jhulan, is always the one who keeps the team going. A mentor to her juniors, she encourages her girls in different ways.

No wonder why all her teammates got emotional when she delivered her last ball.

The last innings of a legend

Goswami played her last international match on 24th September 2022 against England at Lord’s Stadium. Time and again in her career, she kept reclaiming her spot in the first rank as a WODI Bowler.

She holds multiple records, including most number of balls bowled in a career (10005). Having 255 W-ODI wickets under belt, 2 decades long career is the second-longest.

In 2022, she was also the highest wicket-taker of a Women’s World Cup.

She has now been appointed as the bowling consultant of the Indian women’s national cricket team under Ramesh Powar, the head coach.

Cricket, or very amusingly known as a Gentleman’s Game, sexist right, has a massive popularity. But only men enjoy the pros and the cons of playing the game. The women in the same sport play the game away from the public eye, and gain no interest of the masses.

Just a couple of months back, in June 2022, Mithali Raj who had been the skipper of the Indian women’s cricket team for 18 long years, retired.

One could see Goswami’s retirement trailing hers, but when it comes to childhood legends, it is only fair to loiter in absolute denial.

Injuries might have compelled her to call it a day, but in the words of our former captain, “Her sheer longevity as a fast bowler is beyond belief”.

An epitome of optimism and simplicity, her dedication and passion towards the game is deep. As an ardent admirer, one can truly thank her and wish her a blissful retirement.

Image Source: BCCI.tv, Jhulan Goswami’s twitter and Wikipedia, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Akankha Basu Roy

The author is a Gen-Z kid who resorts to writing to vent out about the problematic ways of the world. Having majored in Theatre, English, and Psychology, I take a guilty pleasure in complex read more...

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