Farewell to cricket: Indian women prepare for memorable Lord’s dance for the great Jhulan Goswami
Jhulan Goswami, who has become synonymous with ‘fast bowling’ in women’s cricket, will go into the sunset of her cricket at Lord’s on Saturday as the Indian team will try to make it a memorable swansong by completing a historic ODI series clean sweep over the English. Clay, in London. Playing a match at Lord’s is the ultimate dream of a cricketer. Scoring a century or taking a five-wicket haul is a different matter, but quitting the game after an illustrious career in cricket’s Mecca is reserved for a select few.
Sunil Gavaskar (although he played his last first-class match there) did not get that chance. Neither Sachin Tendulkar or Brian Lara or Glenn McGrath got a chance to walk down the stairs of the Holiday Long Room on the day of their final game.
Even Mithali Raj, Goswami’s colleague for almost 20 years, could not retire from the cricket field.
But call it destiny or plan, Goswami’s last storm is taking place in the Lords.
There could not have been a more iconic setting as the 5ft 11in woman walks through the long room where the ‘suits’ of the MCC will stand and give her a ‘guard of honour’ as she enters the field with her teammates.
Having already won the series with an unassailable 2-0 lead, Harmanpreet Kaur and her team will leave no stone unturned to make it a fitting farewell to one of the ‘poster girls’ of Indian cricket.
After losing the T20I series, India did extremely well against the England team in two matches where they dominated while chasing as well as setting goals.
If the biggest advantage is skipper Harmanpreet getting her touch and free-flowing self-back with her innings of 74 not out and 143 not out, then the worry has been Shafali Verma’s poor form throughout the tour.
Harleen Deol has done well to establish herself as a dependable middle-order batsman but with Goswami’s retirement, the seam attack of Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar will need to be stepped up.
As far as England are concerned, the absence of captain Heather Knight (due to injury) and star all-rounder Nat Sciver (mental health break) significantly affected the balance of the team.
Goswami – Influence then and now
The last time Indian women won an ODI series in England was in 1999 when Goswami did not make his international debut.
So when she appears for her 204th and final game, the revered “Jhulu Di” of the Indian team will know she is a contented soul.
The silverware of the ICC (they had two shots when India played the finals in 2005 and 2017) may sound good but sometimes some things don’t.
When she last made her bowling mark, and climbed the slopes of Lord’s to add on to her 353 international wickets (across all formats), she can remember a lot of things.
From Chakdah, a small town in remote West Bengal, to winning the ‘ICC Woman Cricketer of the Year’ and handling the Indian pace attack for 20 years, you can only give your hat to her.
Taking the first local train to Kolkata and starting with the routine at Shraddhanand Park (a small non-described ground) in North Kolkata was not an easy journey.
Even after her debut in India, she would be seen sitting in an open van rickshaw when she went back home from Chakdah station.
When she first played for India, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh were not even born and Jemima Rodrigues was probably in her nappies.
Harmanpreet was still a Moga girl with dreamy eyes, who wanted to play cricket.
When she is retiring, Harmanpreet is her captain and Shafali, Jemimah, Richa and Yastika Bhatia are her teammates.
And yes, IPL for women is about to start, women cricketers have central contracts and most of them are driving Mercedes, BMW and Audi, the kind of money that has come in.
She has been a bridge between the struggles of traveling in second class coaches, from youth hostels with dormitories and normal toilets to business class travel and living in luxurious five-stars with reasonable central contracts and financial security.
In between, much water has flowed between both the Hooghly and the Thames as she went on her journey non-stop.
Meg Lanning’s delivery in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup will be the kind of cricketing action you’ll crave.
As India are aiming for a 3-0 clean sweep after a few key shows, one can rest assured that there will be no let up in their intensity.
There will be no more Jhulan Goswami.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (Captain), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Sabbinene Meghna, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (WK), Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gaikwad, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemlata, Simran Dil Bahadur, Jhulan Goswami, Tania Bhatia and Jemima Rodrigues.
England: Amy Jones (c&wk), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsi, Kate Cross, Freya Davis, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Freya Kemp, Issie Wong and Danny Wyatt.
The match will start at 3.30 pm IST.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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