“For us, the World Cup is an Olympic event”: Jhulan Goswami

Jhulan Goswami has seen several high points in her career. She captained India, was ICC’s Woman Cricketer of the Year in 2007 and is the leading wicket taker in ODI cricket. At 39, after 25 years in the sport, she wants that one prize that has so far eluded her: the World Cup. Jhulan will lead India’s bowling division in the tournament which starts on March 4 after a one-year delay due to Covid.

“As cricketers, we don’t play Olympics. For us, World Cup is an Olympic event. You prepare for four years to reach a certain level. When the mega event finally comes, you go there to enjoy yourself and express yourself,” said the ‘Chakdah Express’ in an interaction at the WINS (Women in News and Sport) Workshop, run by ABC International Development and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Jhulan Goswami is part of the 15-strong team that will travel to New Zealand this week and play a T20 and five ODIs to prepare for the marquee.

The challenge is the quarantine rules, the senior pro said.

“We do a quarantine in India first, then you have to quarantine again in New Zealand, so it’s going to be tough. It requires a lot of mental strength. The preparation includes not only training, but also staying in a room. We can’t go to outside, we can’t breathe fresh air. But we accept all hardships; in the end we’re going to do what we love most: play cricket. For the past 25 years I’ve only been doing this, that’s why I can make this sacrifice.”

The other big challenge would be bowling and batting on windy lanes, she added.

“It’s not going to be easy in New Zealand because wind is a big factor. When you start to run, sometimes you can’t run fast. If you start tapping the bat, the bat starts to vibrate,” said the fastest female pace bowler in the world, who regularly bowls at 120 km/h.

Jhulan was prominently featured as Indian women’s cricket took a huge turn in 2017, following their final appearance at the World Cup. This time around, the squad looks different – a combination of youth and experience, with eight new members on the side. While the intensity in the preparation of the event has not diminished, much has changed, starting with Covid interruptions.

“With our performance in the 2017 World Cup final, women’s cricket has seen an upward trend in viewership. A lot more people have started following, matches are regularly shown on television, social media has also played a role. So I think that It was the moment women’s cricket needed.”

Then-Australian captain Belinda Clark and her team’s performance in 1997 sowed the dreams of winning the Cup in the young mind of a ball girl. After 25 years and two World Cup finals, the fire is still burning in Jhulan Goswami’s belly.

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She wants to return home with the Cup in what will most likely be her last appearance at the quadrennial event.

The women’s team departs this week for its tour of New Zealand.

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