Jhulan Goswami, whose name is very much familiar with “fast bowling” in women’s cricket, will play her final game at Lord’s on Saturday. The Indian side will want to make it a special farewell for her by sweeping the English in the ODI series. For a cricket player, playing just one game at Lord’s is the ultimate goal. A hundred runs or a five-for is a different high than saying goodbye to cricket after a successful career at the “Mecca of Cricket,” which is exclusively reserved for a select few.
Although he played his final first-class game there, Sunil Gavaskar was denied the chance. On their final playing day, neither Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, or Glenn McGrath had the chance to descend the stairs of the revered Long Room.
Even Mithali Raj, who worked alongside Goswami for almost 20 years, was unable to leave a cricket pitch.
A more memorable scene could not have existed as the svelte 5 feet 11 inch woman made her way through the Long Room to the MCC’s “suits,” who would then stand and offer her a “Guard of Honour” before she onto the field with her teammates.
Harmanpreet Kaur and her squad will stop at nothing to ensure it was a suitable departure for one of the “poster ladies” of Indian cricket, even though the series was already secured with an unbeatable 2-0 lead.
India performed admirably against a depleted England team in the two games when they dominated both while pursuing and while setting the target, despite losing the T20I series.
The concern has been Shafali Verma’s inconsistent performance during the tour, even though skipper Harmanpreet has returned to form with innings of 74 not out and 143 not out. This is the biggest benefit for the team.
Harleen Deol has done well to establish herself as a consistent middle-order batter, but the seam attack, which consists of Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, and Pooja Vastrakar, will need to step up significantly more in the wake of Goswami’s retirement.
Back in 1999, when Goswami hadn’t even made her international debut, India’s women last defeated England in an ODI series.
So that the cherished “Jhulu Di” of the Indian squad will know that she is a contented soul as she plays in her 204th and final game.
Perhaps an ICC trophy would have looked lovely (she had two chances at that in 2005 and 2017 when India competed in the final), but sometimes certain things are not meant to be.
She might recall a lot of things when she makes her bowling mark for the final time and walks up the Lord’s slope to add to his 353 international wickets .
You can only pay your cap to her for making the transition from the small West Bengal village of Chakdah to being named the “ICC Woman Cricketer of The Year” and carrying the Indian pace attack for 20 years.
Taking the first local train to Kolkata and beginning rituals at North Kolkata’s Shradhananda Park wasn’t an easy journey (a small non-descript ground).
Even after making her debut in India, she continued to ride in an open Van Rickshaw as she returned home from Chakdah station.
Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh had not yet been born when she first represented India, while Jemimah Rodrigues may have still been in diapers.
Harmanpreet was still a cricket-loving Moga girl with dreamy eyes.
Shafali, Jemimah, Richa, and Yastika Bhatia will be her colleagues as she retires, while Harmanpreet will serve as her captain.
And yes, the women’s IPL is going to begin. The majority of the women’s cricket players drive Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis thanks to the amount of money that has been brought in.
She has served as a link between the hardships of living in dormitories and youth hostels with shared bathrooms while travelling in second class and staying at posh five-star hotels with proper central contracts and financial stability.
She continued on her way unabated, passing via the Hooghly and the Thames in the interim.
One such cricketing event that you would want is the delivery to Meg Lanning in the 2017 World Cup semifinal.
One can be certain that there won’t be any lull in India’s passion as she aims for a 3-0 clean sweep following a couple of strong performances.
There won’t be another Jhulan Goswami.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Sabbineni Meghana, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Jhulan Goswami, Taniyaa Bhatia and Jemimah Rodrigues.
England: Amy Jones (c and wk), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Eclestone, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt.