From Chakdah to Lords: Adios, Jhulan Goswami

As Jhulan Goswami's cricketing career comes to an end, Ananya Sarkar writes a note on the impact she has made on Indian cricket and beyond.

Ananya Sarkar
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From Chakdah to Lords: Adios, Jhulan Goswami | Sportz Point

Chakdaha & Vivekananda Park could just be a contrasting study of demographics. The latter – with exquisitely tended gardens & high stone walls topped with barbed wires – is home to the elite class of Kolkata. More than 75 km away nestled in Nadia district is Chakdaha, a small town whose claim to fame is the district headquarters, Krishnanagar, and its famous clay idols. This study of contrasts however has a thread linking it to the finest cricketers Bengal & India have ever seen – Jhulan Goswami.

The start: 1997 Women's World Cup & Swapan Sadhu

In 2006, Jhulan became the first and still the only Indian woman to pick up a 10-wicket haul in Test Cricket | Sportz Point

In 2006, Jhulan became the first and still the only Indian woman to pick up a 10-wicket haul in Test Cricket. Image: Zee News

Jhulan's desire to make a career out of playing cricket after being a ball girl in the 1997 World Cup finals is stuff dreams are made up of. The commute from Chakdaha to Vivekananda Park via a local train is a long and dreary journey of more than 2 hours. In addition to that, there was a strict reporting time of 7:30 am set by her coach - Swapan Sadhu.

Read Also: 'Last two years, I thought every series as my last one' – Jhulan Goswami on how she decided to sign off in England

Swapan Sadhu should probably be credited for honing the skills of the finest pacer Bengal has known. It was under his watchful eyes that Jhulan perfected her fast bowling skills. Sadhu, known to be a strict disciplinarian when it came to coaching, was in fact the person who had been instrumental in convincing Goswami's parents to allow her to play cricket. Notably, he conducted the only female cricket academy in South Kolkata during the late 1990s, remarkable in the age when women's cricket was hardly known among the masses.

Jhulan Goswami: The first-ever Indian to win ICC Women's Cricketer of the year

Jhulan Goswami with the 2007 ICC Women's Cricketer of the year award | Sportz Point

Jhulan Goswami with the 2007 ICC Women's Cricketer of the year award. Image - Getty

There is so much to write about Jhulan Goswami that words cannot do justice to. Shall I begin with the fan girl being proud of the 2007 ICC Women's Cricketer of the Year award or in 2008 when I told everyone who cared to listen to me that the women who donned the No 1 and No 2 positions in the ICC women bowling rankings had a Bengal connect. No 1 – Jhulan Goswami (India, proud Bengali) & No 2 – Isa Guha (born in England to Bengali parents).

Read Also: Every Record made by Jhulan Goswami

Or shall we go to what was the tournament that ushered in a new era for women's cricket? The semi-final of the 2017 Women's World Cup between India and Australia & the absolute ripper that dismissed a flabbergasted Meg Lanning – easily the best batter in the world. The runs were on the board, but if any team could chase down that total of 281, it was Australia. And Meg Lanning was a vital cog in that Australian wheel. The ball which dismissed Lanning was the ball of the tournament. Words cannot do justice to the delivery. It was a work of art. Pitching on the middle stump and straightening enough to hit the off stump, dismissing the best batter in the world.

Jhulan, the icon, role model and inspiration

In the cricketing fraternity, Jhulan Goswami will be remembered as an icon, role model and woman whose work ethic an emerging fast bowler should replicate. But what stood out for me was the insatiable desire to perform, despite the unsurmountable odds. In an interview to a Bengali daily, she highlighted how ignorant she was about sports science and diets & that the modification of her diet enabled her to extend her career. If you ever asked her whether she regretted having to travel that 4 plus hours in crowded suburban trains, she will in turn tell you how those days shaped her as a human and made her mentally tough to withstand challenges, both on and off the field.

A pumped-up Jhulan Goswami in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup | Sportz Point

A pumped-up Jhulan Goswami in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup. Image - KreedOn.

Bengal's love affair with sports can be seen in the sheer number of clubs which outline the Maidan, and the fact that a regular evening in a "para" will involve discussions around cricket and football. However, fast bowling was never a forte for the easy-going Bengali. It took a girl from a small town of Bengal, who travelled in local trains to make the world sit up and take notice and eke her name into the annals of cricketing folklore.

Read Also: Cricket Association of Bengal arranges live screening of Jhulan Goswami's farewell match at Inox Forum

Such is the appeal she carries that probably it will be the first time that an upscale multiplex will screen the farewell match for a woman cricketer. For those interested - The Cricket Association of Bengal will be screening the match at #InoxForum on Elgin Road on 24th September, Saturday from 2.30 pm onwards.

Adios, Jhulan Goswami. Thank you for showing a billion small-town girls that the world can be your oyster.

Indian Womens Cricket Jhulan Goswami