JOHANNESBURG/KOLKATA, September 11: When the jet-lagged Indian men’s cricket team landed in Jo’burg and realised they had to attend the ICC awards function, a groan went up. They’d have preferred to rest, especially since not one of them was in the running for any of the awards.
Then the big night came around. Skipper MS Dhoni was called to present a trophy, and suddenly he was applauding. The other members of Team India were up on their feet too, putting their hands together for a player who played a key role in India’s historic Test series win in England – Jhulan Goswami.
Jhulan who? Never heard the name? Few have. In a country that’s cricket-mad, the world’s fastest bowler in women’s cricket has gone largely unrecognised. Till Monday night, when the strapping 24-year-old from the backwaters of Chakdah (in West Bengal’s Nadia district) was declared ICC’s Woman Player of the Year.
“Everyone thinks women should not play cricket. I just hope this award which I got when no cricketer from the men’s team was nominated makes news,” she told TOI after her acceptance speech.
Clear shades of Chak De. While the men’s team was feted for its Test series triumph in England, a similar feat by the women last year went unnoticed. That series had presented the rare sight of opposing batsmen backing away as an Indian pacer charged in.
In fact, England captain Charlotte Edwards, who had become Jhulan’s bunny, dropped herself down the order so she wouldn’t have to face her nemesis straightaway.
Edwards’s woes can be traced back to the boys in Jhulan’s neighbourhood when she was growing up. They wouldn’t let her bowl in their matches, because she was too slow. Edwards paid the price years later.