From ball girl to Indian legend, Jhulan ready to walk into sunset

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‘I have played two World Cup finals but couldn’t win the trophy. That remains my only regret’

IMAGE: Jhulan Goswami will retire after the third ODI against England at the iconic Lord’s on Saturday. Photograph: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Not being able to win an ODI World Cup will be her “only regret” in an otherwise sterling two decade career, said India’s fast bowling great Jhulan Goswami on the eve of her final international game on Saturday.

 

Goswami will retire after the third ODI against England at the iconic Lord’s on Saturday.

An emotional Goswami said she is grateful to the game for giving her name and fame but ending second best during the 2005 and 2017 editions of 50-over World Cup will remain an un-ticked box.

“I have played two World Cup finals but couldn’t win the trophy. That remains my only regret because you prepare fa World Cup for four years. There is a lot of hard work. For every cricketer, it is a dream-come-true moment to win a World Cup,” the 39-year-old right-arm pacer said on the eve of her final international match.

“When I started, I never thought of playing for such a long time. It was great experience. I am fortunate to play the sport. Honestly, coming from a humble background and a small town like Chakdah (in West Bengal’s Nadia district) I didn’t know anything about women’s cricket,” said the legend.

Goswami said receiving the India cap was the most memorable moment of her cricketing journey.

“My best memory is when I got the India cap and bowled the first over because I never imagined (that I will play for India). The journey was difficult as I had to travel for two-and-half hours by local train one way every day for training.”

She recollected how the 1997 Women’s World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand at the Eden Gardens, watched by close to 90,000 people, fuelled her ambitions.

“In 1997, I was a ball girl at the Eden Gardens where I saw my first women’s World Cup final. From that day, my dream was to represent India,” she said.

As Goswami walks into the sunset, the BCCI is set to launch the women’s IPL sometime next year, but the stalwart hasn’t made up her mind whether she will be a part of T20 tournament.

“As of now, I haven’t decided because so far, the Women’s IPL has not been officially announced. We are hopeful that it might come in the coming season. Let’s wait for the official announcement and then I will decide. At this moment, I am ending my career in international cricket. I have enjoyed every time,” she said.

Plagued by injuries after the 2017 World Cup, Goswami said she had been contemplating retirement for quite some years now.

“Well, after the World Cup (2017), in the last 2 years I was always thinking each and every series could be my last. I was going through a lot of injuries and it was not easy. I was taking series by series.

“After World Cup, I thought Sri Lanka tour (in July) would be my last series but I got injured. So England tour was the last option for me. So I went back to NCA, got fit enough and thought of playing my last series in England,” she said.

With India taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Goswami now just wants to end her illustrious career on a high note.

“It is very much important to finish the tour on a high note and continue the way we have been playing in the last 2 matches.”

Goswami said she would miss singing the national anthem and the Indian jersey.

“The best moment for me was coming out of dressing room and singing the national anthem and wearing the India jersey. I will miss those things. But everything in life has to end somewhere. I am happy that I have served the country with honesty and dedication for 20 years.”

Goswami said Indian fast bowling is in safe hands now.

“At this moment India has one of the best seam bowling attacks. We are improving. Indian cricket now gives a lot of importance to fast bowling. Seam bowling is an art, it is a long process.”

Goswami also spoke highly about her long-standing association with retired Mithali Raj.

“Obviously, Mithali and I have played together since U19 days, we had a great relation both on and off the field. But it was just bringing Team India to a different length on what it was and today it is completely different.

“That is a journey, we believed that we can change the face of women’s cricket, we believed that we can be in the top three-four teams in the world and it was not a one-day process, it was a long-time process,” she said. 

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