One of the greatest women cricketers in India, Jhulan Goswami, has announced that the third ODI against England on Saturday will be her last international match. The 39-year-old said that though she is retiring from international cricket, she might be available for the Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) which is in the pipeline.
The veteran cricketer, who began her career in 2002, has chalked up 253 ODI, 56 T20I and 44 Test wickets in a career spanning two decades. In the ODIs, she’s the highest wicket-taker in the world and the only one to have grabbed over 200 scalps in the format. In Test matches, only Diana Edulji and Shubhangi Kulkarni have snapped up more wickets for India.
Born in 1982 in a village called Chakdaha of West Bengal’s Nadia district, Jhulan was spurred to take up cricket after she watched the final of the Women’s World Cup in 1997 between Australia and New Zealand. Her school had taken students to watch the final, which was held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
From there on, Jhulan started travelling to Kolkata every day for cricket practise as facilities in her small town weren’t adequate. It took her more than two hours to travel, but her propulsive desire and steadfast grit helped her overcome all barriers.
Claiming a four-wicket haul in her first World Cup match against West Indies in 2005, snaffling five wickets against England in the fourth ODI in 2005 – a series which India won 5-0 – and notching up a 10-wicket haul in India’s first Test win against England in 2006 are some of the highlights of her glowing career.
In 2007, Jhulan was chosen as the ICC’s Women’s Cricketer of the Year. In 2012, she was the second Indian woman cricketer to receive the Padma Shri after Edulji. She featured in two World Cup finals in 2005 and 2017, but on both occasions, India came up short.
“When I started, I never thought about playing for such a long time. Being from Chakdaha, travelling by train and spending two-and-a-half hours on a one-way journey daily. It was a great experience that I’ve enjoyed and learnt from,” Jhulan said at the online press conference. “I think the best memories are when I first represented India – getting my India cap from my captain was an amazing feeling, and bowling that first over in my career – that was the most important moment in my life,” she added.
Reflecting on her long career, the seamer stated, “I played two 50-over World Cup finals. It would’ve been great for me, India and women’s cricket if we could’ve won at least one of those. That was the ultimate goal. You prepare so much and put in a lot of hard work. We’ve played two-three World Cup finals, including T20, but weren’t able to win them. That hurt, and that’s one regret I have.”
“I was fortunate enough to have very good seniors who handled me very nicely at that time. Coming from a background where I didn’t know anything about professionalism, I’ve learnt from them,” she signed off.
Harmanpreet Kaur in tears for Jhulan Goswami's last match #ENGvIND | #ThankYouJhulan pic.twitter.com/I8no7MhBSq
— Jhulan GOATswami (@Alyssa_Healy77) September 24, 2022
Ahead of the start of the final match of Jhulan’s career, current India captain Harmanpreet Kaur hugged her and broke into tears. The incident happened during the team huddle where Jhulan had presented a special memento.