Jhulan Goswami: An inspiring journey of two decades between the 22-yards

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22 Sep 2022 | 07:29 AM
authorShweta Haranhalli

Jhulan Goswami: An inspiring journey of two decades between the 22-yards

As the veteran seamer gears up for a final hurrah at the Home of Cricket, we rewind her glittering career that turned a new leaf in the history of women's sport

"Whenever I have seen her play, she has always shown so much passion for the country, which is a good learning for all the young kids, wanting to represent the country, whether it is women's cricket or men's cricket."

In a pre-match press conference before the first T20I against Australia, Rohit Sharma heaped praises on Jhulan Goswami for her contribution to the sport.

It has seldom happened in the sport, especially in Indian cricket, that a male superstar speaks volumes about a female player in a media interaction ahead of a high-voltage series. 

With women's cricket slowly emerging from the shadows of their male counterparts, such a statement from the skipper of the Indian side not only lifts the morale of the team or the player but also the millions aspiring to don the national jersey. 

While words will never be able to do justice to her contribution to the sport, especially women's cricket, let us try and relive her journey through the two decades between the 22-yards. 

"It's not how you start but how you finish"

As clichéd as this saying may sound, it seems apt for the 39-year-old seamer who started her career in an era where players struggled with basic facilities. From that to now, being hailed as a role model for young kids, it has been one crazy ride. 

*****

The 1997 Women's World Cup in India planted a seed in the heart of Goswami to pursue the sport as she witnessed Belinda Clark dismantle the opposition bowling units to lift the coveted trophy. 

With a sole dream of donning the national colours, Goswami underwent gruelling hours travelling from Chakdaha to Kolkata for her practice sessions before breaking into the stateside. 

The youngster produced dominant performances in the domestic circuit to make the noises for all the right reasons and soon earned her much-awaited call-up during England's tour of India in 2002. 

6th January, 2002: A bright sunny day greeted the two sides at the Guru Nanak College in Chennai as England and India went through their pre-game routines. 

While it seemed like business as usual for the two sides, there was one particular player who was jumping with joy after being handed her national cap minutes before the toss. 

It was a pretty surreal one hour in the Goswami household as Indians were out on the field in the first innings, with the lanky speedster opening the bowling. 

In the next three hours that followed, she scalped two wickets for 15 runs in her seven-over spell to help the Women in Blue bundle out the opposition for 106 runs in the first innings and register an emphatic eight-wicket win. 

While the match highlighted India's dominance over their counterparts, it paved the way for a glorious day in the history of Indian cricket as the Women in Blue unearthed a star in Goswami. 

With consistent performances in the international arena, Goswami was touted to be the next big thing in Indian cricket and was even named the vice-captain of the side in their away tour to England in 2006. 

The added responsibility on her young shoulders proved to be a blessing in disguise as she smashed a crucial half-century in the first Test at Leicester to power India to their first Test win on England soil. 

She followed it up with a match-winning performance in the second Test at Taunton with five wickets in each innings to help India record an emphatic five-wicket win. 

With ten wickets in the game, Goswami breached the record for the youngest player to scalp ten wickets in a women's Test, going past Betty Wilson of Australia. While this seemed to be the only record-breaking feat in her life, not many people would have dreamt of Goswami possibly shattering every record in Indian cricket. 

She continued to display shades of brilliance throughout the year and scripted history by becoming the first Indian player to win the ICC Women's Cricketer of the year in 2007.

With the prestigious government awards coming her way, Goswami also ticked one of her childhood dreams of leading India after being named skipper for an away series against Australia in 2008. 

While the World Cup title has eluded her twice in her glittering career, the veteran seamer came the closest to winning in the 2017 World Cup at the Home of Cricket against England. 

With team India being in control for the majority of the game, a batting collapse in the last ten overs helped England record an uncanny victory by nine runs in the summit clash. 

The visuals of Goswami shattered during the presentation ceremony broke a billion Indian hearts. However, she vowed to never give up on her dream, and despite the world coming to an absolute halt amid the pandemic, she was determined to have one last shot at the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand. 

However, minutes before the all-important toss in their must-win game against South Africa, she sustained a side strain and was ruled out of action. 

For someone who has been at the forefront of every Indian match since her debut, witnessing her team go down agonizingly in the last over was painful, to say the least. 

Well, maybe not all fairytales have a happy ending, as despite having all the accolades in her kitty, the elusive world title still evades her. 

*****

In the next couple of days, the Home of Cricket will witness one of the greatest players in the history of women's cricket stride out for one last time, donning the national jersey and carrying a billion hopes.

With emotions rocketing sky-high, the Women in Blue will be hoping to give the player who has carried the burden of the nation for two decades, a fitting farewell. 

And just like Mithali said in the post-match conversation after the defeat against South Africa, "Everything does come to an end," however, we hope this is just the start of something special in their journey to contribute to the sport in ways beyond the 22 yards. 

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England Women vs India WomenEngland Women vs India WomenIndia Women tour of England, 2022India WomenJhulan GoswamiMithali RajHarmanpreet KaurRohit Sharma

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