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Saturday, October 1, 2022

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Jhulan Goswami Retirement – Eng vs Ind ODI 2022

It was a press conference unlike any other in Indian women’s cricket. Jhulan Goswami, who plays her last international match on Saturday, had more than the usual handful of journalists to meet her, virtually of course. The questions ranged from her favorite memories and regrets to the big ones: what now. And Goswami showed the patience of a fast bowler who ran hard for 20 years while tackling them.

“For the past two years I thought every series could be my last, especially with Covid-19 postponing cricket until 2021,” said Goswami. “I went through a lot of injuries. I took it series by series. After the [2022 ODI] World Cup I thought the tour to Sri Lanka might be my last. But during the World Cup I got injured and I wasn’t fit enough to tour Sri Lanka. This is the last ODI series before the T20 World Cup (in February 2023), so I thought I would go to NCA [National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru]do a lot of rehab and come to England for my last series.”

Goswami was part of two 50-over World Cup finals – in 2005 and then in 2017, when India lost by just nine runs. The veteran fast bowler said it was not a shame to win a World Cup, but hoped that the current group of players will push themselves to the limit.

“If we had won one [two World Cup finals]”It would have been great for Team India and women’s cricket,” she said. “That’s the ultimate goal for every athlete. When you work that hard you prepare for four years and when you win the trophy it is a dream come true. Unfortunately we played three finals including T20 [World Cup in 2020] but could not win the final. It has hurt feelings and that is one regret.”

Goswami is a constant factor despite the changing landscape of Indian women’s cricket, and will end her two-decade career at Lord’s.
She is not yet sure about playing the women’s IPL, which is expected to take place in March 2023.

“Do not do that [women’s IPL] announcement officially happen, and then I’ll decide,” she said. “At this point, I’m ending my career of international cricket.

“You’ll get injured and that’s when your character is needed to come back every time you fall. I felt then that it would have been better if I hadn’t been a fast bowler. I was a batter. I wouldn’t have so many injuries had”

Jhulan Goswami

“When I started I never thought of playing for that long. At that time we represented WCAI (Women’s Cricket Association of India), and after 2006 we have [have been] in the BCCI umbrella. I took a two and a half hour one way train ride from Chakdaha, trained and went back home and went back the next day to practice. [But the] best memory was when i represented india…i got my india cap from my captain [Anjum Chopra] and bowling the first over in my career. That was the most important moment in my life.
“As a ball girl in the Women’s World Cup 1997, I saw the final in Eden Gardens between Australia and New Zealand, and that day I dreamed that one day I would represent my country. That’s how I started and a lot of commitment efforts just to to represent my country.”

“19-year-old Jhulan, when she debuted in Chennai in 2002, was absolutely raw,” she said. “She just wanted to bowl fast and take one wicket because she didn’t know if she could continue or not. She didn’t know if her performance could be sustained or not. Her goal was to just represent India and bowl fast. That desire to bowling fast stayed with me forever.”

When Goswami started, Indian women mainly played 50-overs cricket and four-day first-class cricket. However, with the T20s being used as the vehicle to drive women’s cricket around the world, days cricket gradually disappeared from the calendar. As a result, the way bowlers now prepare is vastly different from how she did.

“As a bowler, cricket changes day by day and there is more pressure on the bowlers because of the restrictions and how you prepare is the most important thing,” said Goswami. “You have to be skilled and it takes effort from both the player and the team. You can’t decide if you’re going to play for the next 10-12 years. You have to go season by season. You have to be fit, you have to be very strong to take the mental and physical pressure and perform in crunch situations. Now the girls are very professional and there are enough bowlers in this team. I am hopeful that the current pack will be playing for a long time to come.”

Goswami’s career had its share of injuries. She joked that she could have been better off if she had been a batter.

“Every time I got injured I realized I was going to miss the series. [and some] matches [and] had to sit back and not participate,” she said. “But that’s what a fast bowler is all about. You get hurt and that’s when your character has to come back every time you fall. I felt then that it would have been better if I hadn’t been a fast bowler. I then wished I should have been a batter. I hadn’t had that many injuries.”

Now that India has sealed the three-game ODI series against England – marking their first win over the England hosts since 1999 – the stage is set for a grand exit for Goswami. A good individual show is the icing on the cake.

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