It is not a joke to play international cricket for 20 years, and when a woman achieves that feat, her stature increases even more. The tall Jhulan Goswami has shown that a woman can do it. Jhulan, who was heading the pace-bowling attack of the Indian women’s cricket team, bade farewell to international cricket at the Lords on Saturday. Her tenure in the team as a bowler can be treated as the golden era of Indian pace attack.
Jhulan who started her cricket career against England at the Lords ended it playing a match against the same country at the same ground. It was an emotional moment at the Lords on Saturday when she decided to hang up her boots. Her team members were in tears, as their “Jhulu Di” will no longer be seen with them on the field. For a fast bowler, to have such a long career, is an example in itself. Hardly any male fast bowlers achieved that feat. In the coming days, perhaps, there will barely be anyone to break this record.
The Indian women’s cricket team has gone through many phases and each round has seen the rise of someone. It began with Shantha Rangaswamy who gave an identity to the Indian women’s cricket team and, then, came Diana Edulji who earned respect for spin bowling.
Mithali Raj, a fellow cricketer of Jhulan Goswami, took the Indian women’s cricket team to new heights, and, now, Jhulan’s name has entered the Hall of Fame. When a career is so long, there will be records, too. As a fast bowler there is hardly any record that Jhulan has not made.
She took the highest number of wickets (355) in the international matches, the highest number of wickets in ODIs (255) and got the highest number of wickets in the world cup (43). These are the records which would be impossible for any female fast bowler to break. Jhulan played for 20 years and 261 days. Her fellow cricketer Mithali Raj played for 22 years and 274 days. Jhulan is the second player in the world to have played international cricket for such a long time. Both Mitali and Jhulan are of the same age. Both are the stars of Indian cricket as well as of world cricket. One made records in batting and the other in bowling. For a batter, playing for a long time is not something out of the ordinary, but for a fast bowler, playing for such a long period is really an achievement. She is the only fast bowler in the world who played for such a long period. Neither any man nor any woman has done it before.
Nevertheless, other than Mithali Raj, there are three batters who were fortunate to play for 20 years or more. They are master blaster Sachin Tendulkar who played international cricket for 22 years and 91 days, Sri Lanka’s Jai Suraya for 21 years 184 days and Pakistan’s Jawed Miandad for 20 years and 184 days. Looking at Jhulan’s career, we can say women are much ahead of their male counterparts as far as strength and stamina goes. Can any man do fast bowling at the age of 40? Perhaps not. Yet Jhulan has done that. Her cutters were a joy to her team and a nightmare to her opponents. She never fell short of maintaining her line and length. Jhulan bade adieu to the cricket field as a fine pace bowler. Even before saying goodbye, she ensured that the Indian team won the match at the Lords. Every Indian will remember this tall pacer. Let’s wish her all the best.