From Lord's to Eden Gardens, Jhulan Goswami's immense contribution to world cricket in her career at the highest level for over two decades was celebrated with gusto on Saturday, the day of her farewell appearance for India. At Lord's, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur brought Goswami out with her for the toss ahead of the final ODI, and there were tearful scenes at the team huddle. While across at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Goswami's home venue, plans to name a stand after her were unveiled.
Goswami has had a good finish to her long international career, which started in January 2002, as she bowled tight spells in the first two ODIs, both of which India won to seal the series with the match on Saturday left to play. The last time India won an ODI series in England was in 1999.
On Saturday, the celebrations started around the time of the toss. The outgoing England team coach Lisa Keightley presented Goswami with a shirt signed by the England players. Harmanpreet allowed Goswami to be captain, in a fashion, for a while. And then there were lots of photographs.
"When I debuted, that time she was the captain," Harmanpreet would say at the post-match presentation. "Even in the huddle before the game, I told her when I was going through the best time, many people were around me and supporting me but in my rough times, she was the only one who was backing and supporting me and I just wanted to say thank you to her. I know it was her last game but she will always be with us and she is just a call away when we need her. She is my go-to person. In my low phase, I always call her and discuss what I have to do. She is someone who [always] guided me."
Goswami said on the official broadcast: "Thanks to BCCI and Cricket Association of Bengal [CAB], my family, coaches, captains, thanks for this opportunity. It's a special moment. I started in 2002 against England [in India] and ending in England. Most important thing is we are 2-0 up in the series.
"Each and every moment has a lot of emotions. In 2017 [ODI] World Cup, we came back and fought, nobody initially thought we would get into the final, the way we played that tournament was something different. From there, women's cricket in India slowly, gradually it picked up, and now we have our own path and we can motivate young girls to play sports and have a career in cricket.
"I have to [keep my emotions in check] because I can't come with emotion on the cricket field. My character is ruthless; you have to play hard cricket and give your best. A lot of team-mates, people like Harman and Smriti [Mandhana], have seen me, with ups and downs, we've fought and stayed together through ups and downs. It's good that the emotions come out early and after we can come back fresh for the game. I'm happy to see the way Harman and Smriti have carried this team. The way Harman's batting has been great. She's different, on her day it's difficult to get her out. Some days, it's difficult for me to get her. I'm glad with the way players like Yastika [Bhatia] and Harleen [Deol] are coming. Hope they come well in the future."
Not long after that, CAB, Goswami's home cricket association in India, announced their own honour for the star bowler. CAB had earlier arranged a screening of the farewell match at an auditorium in the city, with young women cricketers and CAB officials and members in attendance.
"We are planning to name a stand after Jhulan Goswami at Eden Gardens. She is a special cricketer and deserves to be with the legends," Avishek Dalmiya, the CAB president, said. "We will approach the army [the owners of the stadium] for the necessary permission. We are also planning a special felicitation for her on the annual day.
"At CAB we give equal importance to women's cricket and hence we see so many talented cricketers. They are of course inspired by Jhulan's achievements. Though she has retired from international cricket we would love her to play in the woman's IPL [which is expected to start next year]."
Snehasish Ganguly, the CAB secretary, added: "We have made her the mentor of the Bengal women's cricket as we want to get her valuable advice. We have plans to involve her in development of women's cricket. We also want her to play domestic cricket if she wants."
A day after her final international match, Goswami took to social media to put out an official statement about her retirement, thanking a number of people who had played a part in her long cricketing journey. "Like every journey has an end, my cricket journey of over 20 years ends today as I announce my retirement from all forms of cricket," she wrote. "As Ernest Hemingway said, 'It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end'. For me this journey has been the most satisfying. It has been exhilarating, thrilling to say the least adventurous.
"Cricket has given me several gifts over the years, the greatest and the best without doubt, has been the people I have met along this journey. The friends I made, my competitors, team-mates, the journalists I interacted with, match officials, board administrators and people who loved watching me play.
"I have always been honest as a cricketer and hope, I have been able to contribute to the growth of women's cricket in India and the world," she wrote. "I hope I have been successful in inspiring the next generation of girls to play this beautiful game. Ever since watching the Women's World Cup final at Eden Gardens back in 1997, it was my dream to play for India, and I am thankful to the BCCI, CAB, Women's Cricket Association of India (WCAI) and Air India officials for reposing faith in me and giving me the opportunity to fulfil my dream.
"I want to thank the National Cricket Academy (NCA) for taking care of my injuries and keeping me fit as a fiddle over the years. I am grateful to all the coaches, trainers, physios, and ground staff who have been an integral part of this journey. A huge shout out to all the captains I have played under. Their faith in my abilities helped build my confidence.
"I want to take a moment to thank my family (my parents, siblings) who stood by me in every situation. Not to forget my friends, who have been my best critics and biggest supporters. Last but not the least, I want to thank my childhood coach for having backed me in my endeavour. I also want to express my gratitude towards my fans, journalists, broadcasters for backing me and giving wings to women's cricket."