"For Us, World Cup Is Like An Olympic Event": Jhulan Goswami
The Indian women's team begins its quest for a maiden World Cup title on March 6. Fast bowling legend Jhulan Goswami says that for the players, the quadrennial event is their Olympics.
Jhulan Goswami has seen several peaks in her career. She has captained India, been ICC's Woman Cricketer of the Year in 2007 and is the leading wicket-taker in ODI cricket. At 39, after 25 years of playing the sport, she wants that one prize that has eluded her so far -- the World Cup. Jhulan will lead India's bowling department in the tournament that starts on March 4 after a year's postponement due to Covid.
"As cricketers we, don't play the Olympics. For us, World Cup is like an Olympic event. You prepare for four years to reach a certain level. When the mega event finally comes, you go enjoy there 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 Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Jhulan Goswami is part of the 15-member team that will travel to New Zealand this week and play a T20 and five ODIs to prepare for the marquee event.
The challenge will be quarantine rules, said the senior pro.
"We are doing a quarantine in India first, then again one has to be in quarantine in New Zealand, so it's going to be tough. It requires a lot of mental strength. The preparation does not just include training but also having to stay in a room. We are not able to go out, we are not able to take fresh air. But we accept all the rigours; ultimately getting to do what we love to -- play cricket. From the last 25 years, I'm doing just this, hence I can do this sacrifice."
The other big challenge would be bowling and batting on windy tracks, she added.
"It's not going to be easy in New Zealand because wind plays a big role. When you start taking run-ups, sometimes you're not able to run fast. If you start tapping the bat, the bat starts shaking," said the fastest women pace bowler in the world today, who bowls regularly at 120 kmph.
Jhulan featured prominently when Indian women's cricket took a massive 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 in the side. While there is no let-up in intensity in preparing for the event, a lot has changed, starting with Covid interruptions.
"With our appearance in the 2017 World Cup final, women's cricket has seen a surge in viewership. A lot more people have started following, matches are shown regularly on the television, social media has also played its role. So, I think it was the moment that women's cricket needed."
Then-Australia captain Belinda Clark and her team's feat in 1997 sowed the dreams of lifting the Cup in the young mind of a ball girl. After 25 years and two World Cup finals, the fire still burns in Jhulan Goswami's belly.
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 leaves for its tour of New Zealand this week.