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Chakda to Lord’s: Jhulan brings the curtain down on a storied career

NewsChakda to Lord’s: Jhulan brings the curtain down on a storied career

NEW DELHI: For a sports fan, Sundays are always a date with high-powered sporting encounters to look forward to. But last Sunday was a wee bit emotional. After the tearful adieu of Roger Federer, cricket fans braced for the longest-serving international women’s cricketer Jhulan Goswami’s retirement from cricket at England’s illustrious Lord’s.
The series was won by India after 20 years, incidentally, Jhulan’s debut series and farewell had the same outcome—India scripting a historic win against England in their own backyard. The weather gods were smiling down on Lord’s balcony as English cricketers gave a guard of honour to Jhulan. While all these moments were unfolding, as fans it took back to the memory lane and brought to the fore glimpses of the nondescript village of Chakda, situated an hour’s drive away from Kolkata.
Sipping on a cuppa on a rainy season for a docudrama, Jhulan was requested to display candour just like her toothy smile. Jhulan agreed and confessed that she wished to play once at Lord’s. “It’s the Mecca of Cricket, Dada. Wahan khelna hain Dada, bas ek baar.”
Jhulan’s entry into cricket is like a docudrama unfolding: In 1997, during the Hero World Cup from school as a cricket match, India reached the semi-final and Jhulan promised herself to play for India once. A lanky teenager from Delhi was representing India in that match and promised herself to lead India once.
After half a decade, Jhulan’s debut was disastrous versus England. Three wides in the first spell were good for Jhulan to be benched, but skipper Jhulan had an uncanny nip and was certainly the fastest bowler in India.
Two wickets ensured Jhulan was a permanent fixture in the side.
Her other passion was filmed. In between playing, she would enjoy the movies and when she had an opportunity to meet Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee, she was ecstatic. A girl of few words and a disarming smile, Jhulan was revered on the ground—respected by opponents and was never engulfed in any controversy. “Why should I complain anything about cricket? It’s given me everything.”
Staying true to her non-complaining character, Jhulan played the game with elan and glamour and it was only fitting that she received her send-off at the Lord’s. It is always a cricketers’ dream to sign-off from the sport in a grand manner and Jhulan deservedly was accorded that honour to go out of cricket on her terms at the place and time of her choosing.

Jhulan Nishit Goswami was born on 25 November 1982. She plays as a right-arm medium-fast bowler and right-handed batter. She is one of the fastest (female) bowlers of all time. She played 204 ODI matches before her retirement from international cricket in 2022, taking 255 wickets, and holds the record for taking highest number of wickets in Women’s One Day International cricket.
Goswami won the ICC Women’s Player of the Year award in 2007 and the M.A. Chidambaram trophy for Best Women’s Cricketer in 2011. She rose to number one in the ICC Women’s ODI bowling rankings in January 2016.
She was earmarked for a leadership role when she was named vice-captain of the national team ahead of the tour of England in 2006. There, she helped India to win the Test series, including their first victory against England, making a fifty as a night watchman in the first Test at Leicester and taking her career-best match figures of 10 for 78-5 for 33 and 5 for 45, in the second Test at Taunton.
She was elevated to the captain of the national team. Then in 2010, she was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award. A Padma Shri followed two years later.
England was also the scene of India’s one-off Test win in 2014, where Goswami triggered the hosts’ slide with a four-wicket haul to set up the win.
In 2015, she was one of four senior players who were handed the highest grade of central contracts by BCCI for the first time.
At the age of 19, she made her international debut in 2002 in a one-day international match against England in Chennai. Her Test debut came on 14 January 2002 against England in Lucknow.
Her longevity is measured by the fact that little under 40, she spent 20 years and 258 days playing for India. At number one is former India captain Mithali Raj, whose ODI career spanned 22 years 274 days.

The author is the founder of Indian Sports Fan.

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