Performing well abroad, especially winning the World Cup, is Indian women's cricket team captain Jhulan Goswami's dream

Sport's many ameliorative qualities, besides purging unhealthy vestiges of the past, have nourished progressive thought. Racial and gender parity have remained high on the priority list. It is, then, a tad ironical how long it has taken for sportswomen to be viewed seriously.

Jhulan Goswami, who received the M.A. Chidambaram Trophy (best woman cricketer) at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) awards function in Chennai recently, isn't too bothered by the apparent lopsidedness.

That the ‘cricket is religion in India' catch-phrase applies largely to the men's teams scarcely affects her. “I don't want to make comparisons. At the end of the day, we play the same game,” says the captain of the Indian women's team.

Changing for the better

Jhulan, however, feels the situation has changed for the better. “In the last five-six years, the support from BCCI has been very good. We now have access to better facilities and accommodation. Also, such awards motivate us to do well. So things are improving with every passing day.”

Standing at 5' 11”, the 28-year-old fast bowler has made giant strides — literally and figuratively — since making her International debut in 2002. Jhulan became only the second cricketer, the first Indian, to win the ICC International Women's Player of the Year award in 2007.

It was around the same time the Bengal and Air India cricketer, hitting the 120 kmph mark regularly, was acknowledged the world's fastest bowler in the women's circuit.

Captaincy and performing abroad

In October 2008, Jhulan's stature as a senior player received greater affirmation with her appointment as captain. “As a captain, it's important to support youngsters and ensure they are groomed properly. They should be given ample opportunities to prove their worth.”

For Jhulan, performing well overseas is the next vital step. “We are doing pretty well at home. We have to do well abroad too. The Twenty20 World Cup next year (in Sri Lanka) is an important challenge. There is the 50-overs World Cup at home in 2013 too. So we need to make sure that there is a good blend of individual and team performances.”

On her individual showing, she admits to fitness playing a big part in her development. “I am getting older. If I want to continue bowling fast, I need to work hard on strengthening my body.”

Meeting McGrath

An admirer of former Indian cricketer Purnima Rau, Jhulan treasures her interaction with idol Glenn McGrath. “He's a bowling machine, simply outstanding,” she smiles. “Talking to him was a wonderful learning opportunity. He passed on some useful tips.”

Jhulan, who took to cricket at the age of 14, values her family's support, terming it the source of her “peace of mind”. Her focus now, though, is on doing well in both the World Cups — the Twenty20 and 50-over versions. “Winning the World Cup is a dream. That's the ultimate goal.”

BEING JHULAN

Stat-facts: Made her International debut in 2002. Represented India in eight Test matches (33 wickets at an average of 16.46) and 114 ODIs (135 at 20.94). Played 18 T20 Internationals (12 at 26.50).

Favourite non-cricketing sportsmen: Diego Maradona, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt.

Unwind mantra: “Love to do adda (chit-chat) with friends”, watching films (“Aamir Khan is my favourite actor”), playing volleyball and badminton

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012