She loves to take her rivals head-on

K.R. DEEPAK

“As a senior player, I have a dual role to play. I should not only perform but also inspire the youngsters in the team,” says India’s medium-pacer Jhulan Goswami in a chat with J. R. Shridharan.

Medium-pacer Jhulan Goswami believes in coming back hard at the batswomen even after being hit. She is all for taking her rivals head-on and her message to aspiring fast bowlers is simple: ‘bowl faster, train harder and stick to the basics’. In an exclusive interview to Sportstar, the 28-year-old Padma Shri Award winner speaks about India’s preparation for the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Championship (Sri Lanka, September 26 to October 7), women’s cricket in India and her interests.

Excerpts:

Question: How has your preparation been for the ICC World T20 Championship?

Answer: I am fit and raring to go. As a senior player, I have a dual role to play. I should not only perform but also inspire the youngsters in the team. As the Indian men’s team is also playing the ICC World Twenty20 Championship in Sri Lanka, it is all the more important for us to put up a good show.

What will be the strategy of India’s medium-pacers?

More than pace, we need to concentrate on the line and length. In the T20 format, the dice is loaded in favour of the batters. A bowler should have the grace to take the punishment in her stride, but how hard she comes back defines her character.

How taxing is pace bowling?

The life of a pace bowler is unpredictable as he or she is prone to injuries. Strong limbs, determination and a cool head are a must. There should be no compromise on training too.

How did you take to cricket?

I am from Chakda, a village near Kolkata. I was playing all sorts of games — badminton, volleyball and a bit of football too. However, I was fascinated by cricket. My early foray into the game was through tennis ball cricket, which turned me into an all-rounder. In tennis ball cricket, players who can bat and bowl a bit are preferred. I used to play with the local boys and they would feel that I was not fast enough. I took it as a challenge and bowled a few faster ones at them. Later, when I came to Kolkata, my coach was impressed with my height and speed and asked me to focus on pace bowling.

How much do you relish your milestones?

I have had many beautiful as well as painful times in my 12-year international career. Milestones are meant to be crossed; one should take a glance at them and move on. I still have a long way to go. After the World T20, we have another World Cup coming up in India. I will be preparing for it.

Are you happy with the progress of women’s cricket in India?

The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) is doing its bit to promote women’s cricket. However, the state associations should be more pro-active by setting up separate academies for women. The media should play a part by giving wide publicity to major events. These little things will inspire parents to allow their girls to pursue cricket professionally.

What do you think of women’s cricket in Bengal?

It is growing, but at a slow pace. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) does not have a separate academy for women and we (women) practise in the boys’ academy. There is immense talent in the districts and by conducting district- and club-level tournaments regularly, we can tap them.

Any plans to open an academy in your village?

Right now, I am enjoying playing the game. Maybe when I decide to hang my boots, I may think of opening one (academy).

What does Jhulan do off the field?

I like ‘addas’. Do you know what an ‘adda’ is? It means causal talk among friends. The ‘adda’ culture is popular in Bengal. I regularly invite friends and engage them in some kind of ‘talkathons’ on anything under the sun. It could be films, music, politics, sports or whatever. I relax by listening to the melodious Rabindra Sangeet, Bollywood’s yodelling ‘guru’ Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.