On Saturday at Lord’s, one woman will be the cynosure. Jhulan Goswami will be kitted out in an India blue for the last time wrapping up a long and luminous international career. In a virtual chat with the media ahead of the third ODI, Goswami spoke about the past, present and why she hasn’t given much thought to the future.
What kind of emotions are you going through ahead of your farewell game?
There are definitely butterflies in my stomach. I will do my mental preparation and give of my best. As far as emotions go, the girls have made me feel very special. They are doing their stuff and trying to give surprises.
You played alongside Mithali Raj, another stalwart of India, for a long time. Can you take us through that journey?
I never thought I would play for India for this long. From under-19 days, we were together on and off the field. We believed we could change the face of women’s cricket with our contribution and India would be one of the top teams of the world. It was a long process we thoroughly enjoyed. I was from a small town; I feel so fortunate to have had such a long career.
What was the best moment of your illustrious career?
I dreamt of playing for India when I was ball girl during the 1997 World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Gardens. When I got my India cap from my captain (Mithali Raj) on my debut in 2002 it was a special moment.
Under which captain did you enjoy playing the most?
Every captain has a different style. Fortunately, I have enjoyed playing under all my captains. All of them gave me freedom to do my own thing.
How do you rate Harmanpreet Kaur, who debuted for India under your leadership, as captain?
She was the T20 captain earlier so she has a fair idea about the responsibilities. She is doing a great job as captain of the India team across all formats and she is in a good form too. When I made my debut for India in 2002, we had won the ODI series against England and again we won in their backyard. Smriti (Mandhana) played so well in the first ODI and then Harman took the charge in the second ODI. Harman has a different approach from Mithali.
Harmanpreet said that the team would want to make your farewell series a memorable one.
I have had a good rapport with all my teammates all these years. I really appreciate the love Smriti and ‘Paaji’ (Harmanpreet) have shown me. After the first one-day when Smriti dedicated her Player-of-the-Match award to me, I felt special. She also said that the series should be called “Jhullu didi series”, I was humbled. I wish the best to all of my teammates. I remember looking out for young Harman 13 years ago when she made her India debut. And Harmanpreet’s 171 against Australia in 2017 changed women’s cricket completely.
You are ending your international career with a women’s IPL scheduled next year. Can we see you playing the T20 league at home?
Details about the women’s IPL have not been officially announced. Frankly, I have not taken a call. For now, I am quitting international cricket. I have had some great memories on the field and also in the dressing room playing for India.
What advice would you give to India’s fast bowlers?
Preparation plays an important role in a fast bowler’s career. Skill training is another aspect which helps one become an impactful bowler. Every fast bowler should prepare and train season by season and aim to be consistent.
It is too early to think on those lines. At present, I want to finish my story on a high note and the focus is entirely on the series. We played good cricket in the first and the second ODI. I want to take a break and think about life with a fresh mind. Right now, my eyes are on the game.
We reached the 2005 and 2017 ODI World Cup finals but lost both. That was really disappointing. I would have loved to have a World Cup trophy. A World Cup happens after four years and a team prepares hard for such a mega-event. So, not having any World Cup trophy hurts.
When did you first think of retirement?
I have been thinking hard since the last two years. I had been feeling frustrated due to injuries. Before the ODI World Cup in New Zealand, I made up my mind that I am going to quit and I was eyeing the Sri Lanka series. But unfortunately, I got injured in the World Cup. And India was not hosting a one-day series, so I decided to call it quits in England.
What was the proudest moment of your career?
Wearing that jersey with India written on it and singing the national anthem ahead of the matches gave me the most special feeling. Such experiences make your sporting career so special.