Playing a match at Lord’s is a cricketer’s ultimate dream.
Scoring a hundred or taking a five for is a different high, but saying goodbye to the game after an illustrious career at the ‘Mecca of cricket’ is reserved for only the chosen few.
Sunil Gavaskar (although he played his last first-class match there) was not given that opportunity. Neither Sachin Tendulkar, nor Brian Lara, nor Glenn McGrath had the opportunity to descend the stairs of the Hallowed Long Hall on their last day of play.
Even Goswami’s colleague for almost 20 years, Mithali Raj, could not retire from a cricket ground.
But call it fate or design, Goswami’s last hurrah is at Lord’s.
There couldn’t have been a more iconic setting as the 5ft 11in lady makes her way through this long room where the MCC ‘suits’ will rise and her teammates give her an ‘honor guard and she will enter the field with her teammates.
A series already won with an unassailable 2-0 lead, Harmanpreet Kaur and his team spared no effort to make it a fitting farewell to one of Indian cricket’s ‘poster girls’.
After losing the T20I series, India performed extremely well against a depleted English side in both games where they dominated while chasing as well as setting the target.
While the biggest gain is skipper Harmanpreet getting her touch and smooth return with innings of 74 not knocked out and 143 not knocked out, the worry has been Shafali Verma’s patchy form throughout the tour.
Harleen Deol has done well to establish herself as a reliable mid-level hitter but with Goswami retired, the seam attack comprising Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur and Pooja Vastrakar is set to intensify much more.
As for England, the absence of skipper Heather Knight (due to injury) and all-round star Nat Sciver (mental health break) had a huge impact on the balance of the team.
Jhulan Goswami. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Goswami – Impact yesterday and today
The last time Indian women won an ODI series in England was in 1999 when Goswami failed to make her international debut.
As she appears for her 204th and final match, India’s revered ‘Jhulu Di’ would know she is a contented soul.
Maybe an ICC silverware (she had two shots in 2005 and 2017 when India played the final) would have looked good, but sometimes some things just aren’t meant to be.
When she last marks her bowling mark and climbs the slope of this Lord to add to her 353 international wickets (in all formats), she may remember a lot.
From a small town of Chakdah in isolated West Bengal to winning ICC ‘Cricket Woman of the Year’ and attacking Indian rhythm for 20 years, you can only take your hat off to her .
It was not an easy trip to catch the first local train in Kolkata and start with routines at North Kolkata’s Shradhhananda Park (an indescribable little piece of land).
Even after her debut in India, when she returned home from Chakdah station, she was seen sitting in an open Rickshaw van.
When she first played for India, Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh weren’t even born and Jemimah Rodrigues may have been in her diapers.
Harmanpreet was still a dreamy-eyed Moga girl, who wanted to play cricket.
When she retires, Harmanpreet is her captain and Shafali, Jemimah, Richa and Yastika Bhatia are her teammates.
And yes the IPL for women is about to start, the female cricketers have central contracts and most of them drive Mercedes, BMWs and Audis, with the kind of money that came in .
She has been a bridge between the difficulties of traveling in second-class compartments, living in dormitories and hostels with shared toilets to business-class travel, and staying in posh five-stars with proper central contracts and financial security.
In between, plenty of water passed through Hooghly and the Thames as she continued her journey undeterred.
Delivering to Meg Lanning in the semi-finals of the 2017 World Cup will be one of those cricketing actions you would want.
With India aiming for a clean 3-0 sweep after a few dominating displays, one can be sure there will be no letting up in their intensity.
There will be no other Jhulan Goswami.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti MandhanaShafali Verma, Sabbineni Meghana, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh RanaRenuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Harleen Deol, Dayalan Hemalatha, Simran Dil Bahadur, Jhulan Goswami, Taniyaa Bhatia and Jemimah Rodrigues
England: Amy Jones (c and wk), Tammy BeaumontLauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Alice Davidson-Richards, Charlie Dean, Sophie DunkleySophie Eclestone, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt