Considered as one of the greatest cricketers to have ever played the game, Jhulan, currently the leading wicket-taker in women’s international cricket, made her India debut through an ODI in January 2002 against England in Chennai.
20 years later, with her tally currently sitting at 352 wickets across all formats, 253 of which have come in 203 ODIs, Jhulan has a chance to add more to it when she walks out at the iconic home of cricket for one last time in international cricket.
Her retirement comes nearly three months after her long-time team-mate, legendary batter and captain Mithali Raj, walked away from the international arena.
Q. Could you talk about how you came to the decision to end your international career in England?
A. Last two years, I was thinking about it. The (ODI) World Cup was postponed due to Covid-19, and I was just thinking each and every series is my last series because I was going through a lot of injuries and had to go through lots of ups and downs. So, I was taking series by series. After the World Cup, I thought may be Sri Lanka tour will be my last series.
But I had got injured during last match (which was missed) in World Cup and was not fit enough to go to Sri Lanka. This is the last ODI series before T20 World Cup (in South Africa next year) and I don’t think we are playing any ODI series till then. So, this was last option for me and I said, okay, let’s go back to NCA, do a lot of rehab work, be fit enough to play your last series in England.
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 (my career) 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.
<br>Q. From this long career, what are you most proud of at the end of it when you look back? What will you be missing the most from your international career?
A. Best moment will be walking out of the dressing room and singing the national anthem in the middle of the ground, it is an amazing feeling. Wearing your name on the India jersey will be the best moment of my career. It is the ultimate feeling for me and I always enjoyed those moments.
Those will be the most memorable moments in my life. I always enjoyed and dreamed about those things. Every day I wanted to get up and represent my country, that is the biggest achievement for me. I will miss these things, wearing the India jersey and singing the national anthem. These are the things that I will miss in my life.
But this is how life is. You have to end somehow one day, here or there. I am fortunate enough to be able to serve my country for 20 years, able to contribute a little bit from my side. Whatever way I was able to, I did with a lot of honesty and dedication. Each and every moment in the dressing moment, I enjoyed. Those are very precious moments.
Ups and downs, we have gone through a lot, we tried to bounce back each and every time. Again I will say, singing that national anthem in the center wearing India jersey, name is written and it’s an amazing feeling, those are the best moments in my life.
<br>Q. Are there any regrets you have from your international career?
A. I have played two (ODI) World Cup finals but couldn’t win the trophy. If we had won one out of those two finals, it would have been very great for me, Team India and for women’s cricket. That (winning World Cup) was the ultimate goal for every athlete because you prepare so much and put in lot of hard work as preparing for World Cup takes four years.
When you deliver on that and get to win the trophy, it’s definitely a dream come true. That remains the only regret I have because from what I see, growth of women’s cricket has been great. I am hopeful that this young bunch of cricketers will take women’s cricket to the next level.
<br>Q. You and Mithali Raj have been two stalwarts of women’s cricket. How do you see playing alongside her and what would be the biggest legacy of yours?
A. When I started, I never thought about playing such a long time, it was a great experience. Every moment I have enjoyed and learnt a lot. We (her and Mithali) had a great relation on and off the field, since we played together from the U19 days. From what Indian cricket was, to today, which is totally different, it has been a journey and we believed that we can change the face of women’s cricket.
We believed that we can be in the top three or four teams in the world. It was not a one-day process; it took a long time. We spent a lot of hours discussing, gone through lots of up and downs. But we always believed in our own abilities. It was a great experience; we all enjoyed each and every moment in the team and put in a lot of effort.
I am absolutely very fortunate enough to play this sport, never thought about all this coming from Chakdah, didn’t know anything or had an idea about women’s cricket and how to take up sports professionally. Thanks to my family and parents, they supported me from the beginning.
<br>Q. You are ending at a time when the women’s IPL is starting. Can we expect to see you play in first few seasons of women’s IPL?
A. As of now, I haven’t decided. So far, officially, BCCI hasn’t come out with women’s IPL. But we all are hopeful that it might come in the coming season. Let it be officially announced and then I will decide. But at this moment, I am just ending my career from international cricket. Each and every moment I have spent in the dressing room, on the field and off the field, I have always enjoyed and cherished those moments.