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The Rediff Special/Harish Kotian
How Jhulan became the world's fastest bowler
September 30, 2006
What started as a pastime as a little girl finally became a dream come true for Jhulan Goswami.
"I used to play tennis ball cricket with boys near my house when I was 13. Little did I realise then that one day I would become India's fastest bowler," said the Indian women's cricket team's star bowler on Friday.
Goswami still remembers the day when the boys stopped her from bowling because she was too slow for their liking.
"They used to thrash me all around for sixes because my bowling was so slow. So they asked me to stop bowling at them and just go and bat. It was then that I made up my mind to bowl fast," confessed the 5' 11" world's fastest woman bowler, at the Castrol Awards function, in Mumbai on Friday.
Goswami was honoured with a 'Special Award' for her magnificent performance in England, where she helped India to a historic first-ever Test series triumph.
Goswami registered match figures of 10 for 78 in the second Test at Taunton to fashion India's victory. She finished with a rich haul of 15 wickets in the two-Test series, as India bounced back after losing the one-day series 4-0.
"I'm happy that we beat England on their home ground; it was a really big win and a special one. It is really special that I played a part in it."
The 22-year-old, who is capable of working up pace up to 120 kms per hour, declared this is just the start, and she wants to better it in the future by being more consistent.
"I am focusing on my accuracy," she replied, when asked about future plans.
When she started first taking cricket lessons at the young age of 15, Goswami faced a lot of hardships, which included traveling daily around 80 kms for training.
"I used to get up at 4.30 am in the morning so I could catch the train and reach in time for the practice session. But many times I missed the train and used to reach late for practice; but I never lost heart.
"It was really a tiring schedule, as I had to travel for more than five hours in a day, then come back, have a rest for a while and again go back for studies. There was less time to rest and more time to work," she recalled.
"Initially my mom and dad were a bit reluctant about me taking up cricket.
But I had already decided that I wanted to be a cricketer.
"I made this decision after watching the 1997 women's World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in Kolkata. That day I decided that even I want to play at the highest level," she said.
Goswami, who made her debut against England in 2002, said she even visited the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai.
"I met [Australian bowling legend] Dennis Lillee a couple of times at the MRF Pace Academy before the important tours of Australia and the 2005 World Cup. His tips were really helpful," she added.
Her first big step towards international cricket came in a match between East Zone and Air-India, where her movement and pace caught the eye.
"In 2000, I played for East Zone and took 3 for 13 in 10 overs against a good side like Air India, where Anju Jain and a few other top players took part. After the match I was asked to join Air India, after which I have never looked back."
"Then in 2002 I made my debut for India and ever since that day I have been looking to improve. I am trying to learn consistently and become a better bowler," she added.
The Castrol award should certainly spur her towards that end.