Maiden From chakdah Who Bowled the World Over

By: Divya Pathak

At first glance, she looks like a bubbly young girl-next-door chatting and laughing playfully with a bundle of college girls, who aspire to be like her. But a closer look reveals wisdom on her face, a fierce passion in her eyes that sets her a step above the rest. Jhulan Goswami, ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2006-2007, is a small town girl, who has proved that if one has the desire and the perseverance, no force in the world can ever stop anyone from achieving what one dreams of. Though this humble girl realises that the award has made her a celebrity overnight, she is determined not to let success get on to her head.
24-year old Jhulan from Chakdah in Nadia district of West Bengal, waves enthusiastically, as Headlines India team catches her in the sprawling greens of Vivekananda Park in Kolkata, sharing her ecstasy with her coach Swapan Sadhu, and advising other young wannabe women cricketers to believe in the mantra of hard work and perseverance. Her coach looks at her affectionately, with eyes moistened with a joy that cannot be explained in words, while a group of girls take cricketing tips from her. Jhulan obliges all, and smiles coyly, as she poses for lensmen of various media houses, before settling down with Headlines India to share her experiences.

Jhulan, congratulations for your feat! How does it feel to be selected ICC Women’s Cricketer of the year?

Jhulan Goswami: Thank you so much! (Grins) It feels great! It is a feeling of great pride for me and my country, and needless to say, I feel on top of the world. I was the only woman nominated from India, and I was chosen. So, I feel happier that I managed to bring laurels to my country.

Had you ever imagined that you would win this award?

Jhulan Goswami: Never. See, what I feel is, when a person is playing, he or she should not think about awards, rewards, recognition and money. One should concentrate on his/her game, and awards will automatically come in one’s way. These awards are actually small milestones that keep coming in life’s journey. One has to cross them and move ahead in life. I played with this philosophy. I concentrated on my performance, and never thought of any award. I played for my country, I played for my team.

So, what was your first reaction when you heard that you had been chosen?

Jhulan Goswami: For a while I was speechless. The feeling that I experienced at that moment cannot really be explained. I received the award from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which was again a special moment for me. Then all the players of the men’s team congratulated me.

What about your team-mates, friends and family?
Jhulan Goswami: They had a lot of expectations. You can say they were quite confident that I would win the award. When it was finally declared, they were simply ecstatic.

Chakdah to Johannesburg. You have come a long way...

Jhulan Goswami: (Interrupting) I still have miles to go before I sleep! (Laughs)

How has your journey been so far?

Jhulan Goswami: I would say it has been a roller coaster ride for me. Of course, nothing in life is easy. One has to face the ups and downs life brings, if one wants to taste the sweet fruit of success. I have had my share of thorns, but I still do not consider my life to be a bed of roses. I know I have a long journey ahead of me. What I have achieved is just a small milestone. But yes, I thank God that I got an opportunity to experience so many things in such a short span of time. I saw so many new places, met so many new people. It really feels great!

You talk about the hardships you have faced. Was it very tough initially?

Jhulan Goswami: Very, very tough. Especially because I belong to a very small place, which is far away from Kolkata. Moreover, I come from a modest background. And above all, women’s cricket is still not the “in” thing in India.

Tell us something about your childhood, your family.
Jhulan Goswami: I belong to a small family in Chakdah. My family constitutes of my parents, my siblings, and me. Ours is a very close-knit family, and my parents have always encouraged my siblings and me to follow our dreams. Even as a child, I was immensely fascinated by sports. I used to participate in a lot of sporting events in school. In general, I had a happy childhood, and I enjoyed a lot with my friends and my siblings.

And did you always aspire to become a cricketer?
Jhulan Goswami: Not really. I had never thought that I would become a cricketer. In fact, I used to play a lot of games – badminton, volleyball, football, cricket. I loved all the games equally.

Then what prompted you to become a cricketer?
Jhulan Goswami: As I got more and more involved into the game, I started falling in love with it. I realised that I was enjoying cricket more than any other game. So I decided to become a cricketer, and started my formal training in 1997 under Swapan Sir.

And why a fast bowler?

Jhulan Goswami: Initially I was into batting as well as bowling. Later, my coach, my team-mates and my friends felt that my strength lay in bowling. My height gave me an added advantage and so I became a fast bowler! (Chuckles)

Did your family always support you?

Jhulan Goswami: Not just my family, I am lucky to have received support from my teachers in school, my friends, my team-mates and all my well wishers. My parents, of course, have been my biggest supporters. I would have been nowhere without their support and co-operation.

To whom do you attribute your success?
Jhulan Goswami: My parents, and definitely my coach. He made me learn the tricks of the trade. He still corrects me when I make a wrong move.
Jhulan, it was alleged a few months back that there is no unity and coordination in the men’s team. Does such a thing exist in the women’s team as well?
Jhulan Goswami: See, when the players are on field, they play as a team. In these situations, a team must remain united. This is what I know. Other than that, no one knows what the story is inside the dressing room of the men’s team. But things are very normal, very smooth in the women’s team. We all are like a family – very close, much attached to each other. There are no hard feelings.

With such a hectic schedule, do you miss the normal life of a young girl?

Jhulan Goswami: I am still, a very normal girl. But yes, at times I do feel that my life is getting very hectic, and that I am missing out on the small joys of life. But then, you can’t get everything in life, can you? (Smiles philosophically)

Do you have any plans for the upcoming Durga Puja?

Jhulan Goswami: I no longer make plans for myself. I don’t even know if I will be in town during the Puja. These are the little things I miss...

What about your leisure activities?

Jhulan Goswami: I love spending time with my family and friends. I love listening to music. I am fond of all kinds of music. I also love watching movies. I recently watched Chak De! India, and I feel it is a fabulous movie. The portrayal of women’s hockey team is something very new and very commendable. I hope someday they will make a film on women’s cricket team as well. Who knows, they might have already started contemplating one! (Grins)

It might be a movie inspired by your life, Jhulan! So how do you plan to make women’s cricket more popular?

Jhulan Goswami: Sadly, I alone cannot increase the popularity of women’s cricket. A lot of effort needs to be put in to make it more popular. On my part, I can only say that I will keep on striving hard and try to draw the attention of people towards the women's cricket.
Any message for aspiring cricketers? And anything special you want to tell women cricketers?

Jhulan Goswami: I have the same message for men as well as women cricketers. I want to tell all budding cricketers to play with dedication. Love your game, and never shy away from hard work. Be honest to yourself, and remember, it is diligence and devotion that ultimately pays.

For More Articles By The Same Author & For More News From India Visit http://www.headlinesindia.com

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