India women’s team bowling legend Jhulan Goswami announced her retirement from international cricket on Friday adding that the team’s third and final ODI against England at Lords’ will be her last.
The 39-year-old lanky pacer played 283 international matches during her glittering career while taking 353 wickets. A bulk of that came in the ODIs as she took 253 wickets in 203 matches in the format. The match at Lords’ on Saturday will be her last.
Addressing media ahead of her farewell game, Goswami revealed she has been thinking about retirement for a while now but mostly injuries kept her from calling it a day.
“Last two years I was thinking every series, each and every series is my last series because of injuries and ups and downs,” said Goswami from Lords’. “After the World Cup also, I thought maybe Sri Lanka tour will be my last series, but again I got injured in the last match of the World Cup and wasn’t fit enough to travel to Sri Lanka. And this is the last ODI series before the T20 World Cup, so why not this series.”
Making her debut in 2002, Goswami contributed over 20 years of her life to Indian women’s cricket team, which reached three World Cup finals (two ODIs) in what could be rated as the best period in the history of the national team. Earlier this year they also won a historic silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
When asked if she expected her career to sprawl over two decades, Goswami said she feels fortunate to play this sport.
“Never thought about playing for such a long time. Great experience. U-19 together, great relations. We believe that we can change the face of women’s cricket and we can be in the top 3/4 among the women’s teams in the world. We always believe in our own ability. It was a great atmosphere in the dressing and we enjoyed a lot. I’m very fortunate to have played this sport. Coming from Chakdah, I did not know anything about women’s cricket. I’m very thankful to my family,” she said.
Being part of Indian cricket team post 2000 also meant Goswami saw the women’s game developed from the grassroots and feels she has come a long way as a ball girl, who watched women’s cricket from the boundary line for the first time in 1997.
“When I started, it was different, it was absolutely different. I was fortunate enough that BCCI support the development of women’s cricket from the grassroots level. They always come forward and support us. It was a different feeling travelling from Chakdah for training. My best memory was getting the cap from my captain on my debut and bowling the first over, that is the biggest moment of my life. 1997 first time I saw women’s cricket as a ball girl and that day I dreamed that I will one day represent the country,” she said.
Goswami further said she saw the game change a lot over the years and suggested the upcoming generation to take it one season at a time when they prepare for international cricket.
“It is difficult to say how long you’ll play the sport. How you’re going to prepare is the most important thing, and your preparation is going to be key. Earlier we used to play four-day (Test) and ODI cricket, and now we have T20Is, so it’s a very different skill set. So don’t go by the next 10-12 years, go season-by-season. Preparation is going to be key, and nowadays girls are very professional and know how to handle pressure,” she said.
However, Goswami has confirmed that she’s only bidding adieu to international cricket and is keeping her options open to play the inaugural Women’s IPL, which is in the pipeline for some time now.
“As of now, I haven’t decided, because BCCI hasn’t come out officially. Let them officially announce, and then I’ll decide, but at the moment I’m ending my international career. But I’ve enjoyed each and every moment on the cricket field so far.” she said.
However, with no international cricket in her schedule anymore means there will be a huge gulf to fill in her calendar from now on. When asked, how she is preparing for that, Goswami said she’s only focussing on Saturday’s game and will plan on her future later.
“At this moment, honestly speaking, haven’t thought about those things. It’s very much important for me to finish this tour on a high note and tomorrow’s game is very important for us. After that match I’ll definitely take a break. No emotion will be in my mind and heart and then I’ll think about the future,” she said.
When asked about how emotionally she is and if there are any regrets in her long career, Goswami said there are not many regrets but she would have loved to win at least one of the two World Cup finals she played in.
“Kuch nahi. Very normal. Very happy bunch of cricketers and they make you feel normal. I haven’t felt anything so far, not until I’ve entered the ground in my farewell game. I’m very much enjoying with this young bunch of cricketers. Regrets in the sense, played in two World Cup finals, if we had won one of them that would’ve been great for us because it is the ultimate goal for us. That’s one such regret I have, otherwise everything else is great,” she said.