Jhulan Goswami, one of India’s greatest-ever cricketers, on Friday confirmed her retirement from international cricket ahead of the Lord’s One-Day International against England.

The pacer, who made her India debut in January 2002 in an ODI against England in Chennai, is the all-time leading wicket-taker in women’s ODIs with 253 strikes so far in 203 matches. And she will have a chance to add to that when she steps out for a final time at one of cricket’s most iconic venues.

Jhulan Goswami's career

FORMAT Mat Inns Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5w
Test 12 21 44 5/25 10/78 17.36 2.02 51.5 3
ODIs 203 202 253 6/31 6/31 22.10 3.37 39.3 2
T20Is 68 67 56 5/11 5/11 21.94 5.45 24.1 1

“Walking out of the dressing room and singing the national anthem in the middle of the ground, wearing your name on the India jersey will be the best moments of my career. It is the ultimate feeling for me and I always enjoyed those moments,” Goswami said in a press conference on Friday from England.

“Those will be the most memorable moments, I always dreamed about those things. Every day I wanted to get up and represent India. Biggest achievement. These are the things that I will miss in my life. But this is how life is. You have to end one day, here or there. I am fortunate enough to be able to serve the Indian team for 20 years, able to contribute a little bit from my side, whatever way I was able to with a lot of honesty and dedication. Each and every moment in the dressing moment, I enjoyed. Those are very precious. Ups and downs... we have gone through a lot, we tried to bounce back.

“Again I will say, singing that national anthem in the center wearing the India jersey... amazing feeling, those are the best moments in my life.”

In a press conference that lasted nearly half an hour, Goswami reflected on her career with a warmth that has become a trademark of sorts on the field, as she wound down a career as the senior member who guided youngsters along, with a hug here, and a hug there. She also said, without revealing details, that the teammates have been planning little surprises for her through this tour on England.

Goswami’s retirement comes a couple of months after Mithali Raj’s, the legendary former captain with whom she shared a long journey.

“Never thought about playing such a long time, it was a great experience. Every moment I have enjoyed. [Playing with Mithali Raj] We had a great relation on and off the field, since we played together from the U19 days. From what Indian cricket was, to today, it has been a journey and we believed that we can change the face of Indian cricket.

“We believed that we can be in the top three or four teams in the world. Not a one day process, long time... lots of hours discussing, lots of up and downs, but we always believed in our own abilities. We all enjoyed each and every moment in the team. I am very fortunate to play this sport, never thought about all this coming from Chakda, didn’t know anything about women’s cricket. Thanks to my family, they supported me from the beginning,” she said.

With India not playing any ODIs at home in the near future, and the T20 World Cup on the horizon early in 2023, a farewell in England seemed fitting for the veteran pacer.

“Unfortunately we are not playing ODIs at home as per the calendar already. The team is preparing for the upcoming T20 World Cup. I think I am fortunate enough to play my first series against England and also ending against England. Lord’s has always been special for every cricketer, a very importance place, so I am happy with whatever way [this farewell] has come. No regrets from my side on that,” she added.

Not decided about WIPL

When asked if she will be up for a women’s Indian Premier League that is reportedly going to start early next year, Goswami said she hasn’t thought about it.

“As of now I haven’t decided. So far, officially, BCCI hasn’t announced it yet but we all are hopeful that it will start coming season. Let it be officially announced and then I will decide. At this moment, I am just ending my career from international cricket.”

Of course, finishing this sensational career without a World Cup was going to be something that Goswami will rue.

“I have played two World Cup finals but couldn’t win the trophy. That remains my only regret because you prepare for a World Cup for four years. There is a lot of hardwork. For every cricketer, it is a dream-come-true moment to win a World Cup,” the 39-year-old right-arm pacer said.

Her journey from Chakda to the national team has been spoken about a few times and will be in the limelight once more with a movie starring Anushka Sharma in the works. It came up during the interaction once again and for someone who started as a ball kid at Eden Gardens, bowling the first over for India in ODI cricket was a huge deal.

“When I started, it was absolutely different. Those days we used to represent Women’s Cricket Association of India and after 2006 we were in the umbrella of BCCI. We are fortunate enough where BCCI supports to develop cricket in grassroots.

“From Chakda, using train everyday for two and a half hours one way journey in the train and again going back home and to come back next day… it was a different feeling.

“Best memory, probably when I represent India the first day… getting my India cap from my captain and bowling the first over in my career. That was the most important moment in my life. I always dreamt about playing for my country. At the 1997 World Cup, I saw the final at Eden Gardens between Australia and New Zealand as a ball girl and that day I dreamt that one day I might represent my country. That is how I started and I put a lot of effort to represent my country,” she said.

One of the most reflective moments of the press conference came when Goswami was asked about what she would say to her 19-year-old self who made her debut.

“The 19-year-old Jhulan, when she made her debut against England in 2002 in Chennai, that was a different Jhulan. That Jhulan was absolutely raw. Just wanted to bowl fast, just wanted to take one wicket because she didn’t know [if] she will be able to continue or not. Her performance will be maintained or not...

“But she just wanted to take one wicket, and that was her first aim: to represent India and bowl fast. That’s what she did at the time.

“And since then, the desire to bowl fast has remained with me forever. But I was very fortunate that I had very good seniors who handled me very nicely at the time because coming from such a [non-sports, middle-class] background, without knowing anything about professionalism... I learned from them and those remain extremely good, fond memories for me to this day. And till today I’m enjoying each and every moment.”

Watch Jhulan Goswami’s press conference here.