From bunk beds to five stars: Jhulan Goswami reflects on evolution of women’s cricket

Jhulan Goswami says that the 2009 edition of Women's World Cup was the best in terms of arrangements.

Jhulan Goswami remains the only bowler in women's cricket to have 200-plus ODI wickets.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

From bunk beds and unreserved train tickets to staying in five-star hotels and flying business class, women’s cricket has undergone a “massive” change, feels one of its biggest stars, Jhulan Goswami.

Jhulan, the only bowler in the women’s game with over 200 ODI wickets, reflected on her time in international cricket and also looked ahead to the upcoming ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies starting November 9.

“I remember staying in an accommodation with bunk beds for my first World Cup, in 2005. For domestic matches, we often travelled unreserved in trains, and played on grounds where getting injured would have been very easy,” the 35-year-old wrote in her column for the ICC.

“There were countless junior tournaments where we stayed in dormitories and slept on mattresses on the floor. There’s been such a massive change to women’s cricket since I started playing.”

The World Cup’s league matches will be played in Guyana and St Lucia from November 9-18 with the two semifinals and the final in Antigua on November 22 and 24, respectively.

This being the first ever standalone Women’s World T20, Jhulan feels it will generate more publicity.

“I was a part of all the previous ICC Women’s World T20s right from the first one in 2009...Those were tournaments held alongside the men; yes, people were watching, and there was good publicity for the women’s games, but what I found was that by having it simultaneously with the men, the women would be in the shadows.”

Jhulan once led the ICC Women’s Player Rankings for ODI Bowlers, before announcing her retirement in August from the shortest format ranked 30th after making 68 appearances.

On the previous world events being held simultaneously with the men’s tournaments, she added, “Before the semifinals, people would not be aware about the women’s games, as only the semifinals and the final were televised. So, we didn’t get the publicity that we should have received.”

While she called the 2017 World Cup the best in terms of organisation, Jhulan said things started to change with the 2009 edition in Australia.

“I recall so many funny memories when I think about multiple teams sharing one bathroom. Back then, the IWCC (International Women’s Cricket Council) and the WCAI (Women’s Cricket Association of India) did a very creditable job with the resources they had.

“But we could really see the difference in the 2009 World Cup in Australia, which was the first one organised by the ICC. All of a sudden, we had the best hotels, great grounds, a daily allowance.

“Even for domestic tournaments, the BCCI’s entry meant that flights replaced trains. Instead of fighting other passengers for a place to sit, we fought with each other for window seats!”

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