Jhulan Goswami, Superstar of Women’s Cricket of India…By Paramdeep Rathee

For any country to keep producing top cricket players generation after generation, the need for perfect role models is a pre-requisite. Presently, Indian women’s cricket team is one of the most competitive teams in the world. This is because of some legends who carried the responsibility of this team on their shoulders, and were a part of the process where they guided their team from absolute scratch to become one of the very best. Jhulan Goswami is a name which naturally comes to our minds when we talk about women’s cricket. 
She was born on 25 November 1982 in Chakdaha, a small city in West Bengal, India. Coming from a non-cricketing background, Jhulan’s parents wanted her to pursue studies & not cricket. Her Coach Swapan Sadhu was very impressed with Jhulan’s high-arm bowling action. He met Jhulan’s parents and convinced them to let her play, at least for 2 years. She used to wake up at 4.10 am to board 5.05 am local train from Chakdaha to attend practice sessions and spend nearly 5 hours every day traveling to and fro.
Following the footsteps of her idol Belinda Clark since she was 15, Jhulan made her debut for India in 2002 against England Women at Chennai in January 6, 2002 at the age of 19. She also made her Test debut against the same opponent at Lucknow in January 14, 2002. Her T20I debut was alao against England Women at Derby on August 5, 2006.
In 2006-07, Jhulan guided India to first ever test series win in England. She single-handedly won a match for India in the series by talking a 10-wicket haul and scoring an important fifty. In 2007, she later went onto become the first Indian woman to win the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year. Jhulan was also awarded the Arjuna Award in 2010 and Padma Shri in 2012 for her exemplary leadership and guiding women’s cricket to unprecedented heights. In April 2018, Jhulan was featured on an Indian postage stamp issued in her honor by the Indian government.
She is the most prolific wicket-taker in the 50-over format, and at one time, one of the fastest; touching speeds of 120km/hr coming from India, a land known for spinners and spin-friendly pitches, was extraordinary. Goswami has spent decades extracting pace from unhelpful tracks and thrived with her unwavering consistency of length and unflinching commitment.
In 2017, she became the highest wicket-taker in One Day Internationals, overtaking Australia’s Cathryn Fitzpatrick – a player who partly inspired her to take up the game professionally when she watched the 1997 World Cup final as a ball kid in Kolkata. She is the only bowler in the women’s game to take 200 ODI wickets and 300 wickets across all 3 formats. After sowing seeds for something big to come, Jhulan was a crucial part of India’s run to the World Cup final in 2017.
Over the years, Jhulan became the flagbearer of Indian women’s cricket and a motherly figure for budding young women cricketers. In the 2000s, when existence of women’s cricket was unknown to most of us, this young woman came from a small town in West Bengal, with extremely limited resources, made the sport popular and motivated young girls to take up a career in cricket. Her leadership, work ethics and firm dedication guided Indian women’s cricket team to finally realise their potential. Earlier this year, a biopic was also announced on the life of Jhulan Goswami named “Chakdaha Express”, starring Anushka Sharma. Even now, her commitment is unparalleled as is evident by her fitness level at 37, an age where fast bowlers don’t typically remain the country’s spearhead. She is the lightning lady of Indian Women’s Cricket team and an inspiration to millions around the cricketing world.