Jhulan Goswami talks to TOI on the way ahead for women’s cricket…
KOLKATA: It is said that the journey is more important than the destination. Now that the ‘Chakdah Express‘ has finally come to a halt, former India skipper Jhulan Goswami admits to being in the grip of nostalgia. As memories engulf her, the just-retired fast bowler, who boasts of 355 career wickets, is happy to put her feet up and enjoy the Durga Puja festivities without having to worry about maintaining her fitness.
Excerpts from a chat…
Your farewell at Lord’s garnered a lot of attention…
I want to thank the BCCI and my teammates for making it special. The BCCI pushed me to work on my injuries and get back on the field for one last series. The entire credit goes to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for getting me fit in time for the big series. It was overwhelming to see the record-breaking crowd at Lord’s for the last ODI. This means people have started feeling passionate about women’s cricket.
What was it like sharing the dressing room with youngsters?
These kids are fearless and focused. They are fun-loving, spirited. All they want is to enjoy the game. This bunch had a huge impact on me. I was initially nervous about coming back after a break, but they made sure I enjoyed every moment. Smriti, Harman, Deepti and the entire team wanted to win this series for ‘Jhulu di’. That was very touching. They wanted me to end on a high. They gave me memories for a lifetime.
You are kind of a pied piper to these girls. How were your seniors?
I always believed in creating a comfortable space with my teammates and that helped me learn every single day. Unlike me, my seniors were more serious. They were different, barring a few like Anju di (Anju Jain), Anjum di (Anjum Chopra) and Puri di (Purnima Rau) with whom I was friendly.
Test cricket remains an elusive format for the new breed of players…
Playing red-ball cricket has its own charm. I loved playing Test cricket. It tests your character and helps you gain maturity to handle pressure. I am sure the BCCI will find opportunities to make this young bunch play Tests. I personally feel Test cricket should continue being a part of the yearly calendar.
Your thoughts on the women’s IPL?
The WIPL will be a watershed moment for women’s cricket. Barring a few international players under the BCCI contract, the rest depend on a Railways job. There are several talented players in the domestic circuit. WIPL will be an opportunity for them to get the much-needed financial stability and gain experience from exposure of playing with and against foreign players. WIPL will make women’s cricket a full-fledged career.
Do you regret missing out on the Birmingham Commonwealth Games?
When I started, we couldn’t imagine being part of the Commonwealth Games or Olympics. It would have been very special playing in the CWG, but I have no regrets. With every passing year, women’s cricket is evolving. Being a part of a multi-sports event is a result of that. With CWG and maybe the Olympics in future, women’s cricket is in the global space.
You have been named mentor of Bengal women’s cricket…
Bengal girls have been performing well in all age groups. Along with the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), I want to help chalk out a year-long training plan for them, so that they are always associated with the game. We must give these girls better facilities to help improve their performance. The focus should also be on picking talents from districts. The U-15 tournament for girls this year is a huge positive. With the U-19 Women’s World Cup scheduled next year, I hope Bengal girls get picked for the India team.
How do you plan to celebrate Durga Puja?
This Durga Puja is all about breaking rules. I will dig into phuchkas, biryanis after ages. While retirement means missing out on wearing the India jersey, it also means freedom from those strict rules. I will enjoy with my childhood friends, siblings and gorge on food cooked by mother.

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By jaghit

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