Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami, the dynamic duo.
Sounds okay but could be better. Let us try again.
Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—The Eternal Legends? Scratch that. How about
Goswami & Raj: Stalwarts that Let the Flame Burning for India’s Women Cricket.
I have to be brutally honest here. I had a tough time finishing this article.
It took me weeks. I mean how could I summarize such long careers, awe-aspiring legacies, and inspirational stories with a mere couple of phrases? In fact, it took me an entire day just to research just the sheer number of records and awards these two possess (all of them listed below).
103 days away from the 2022 Women’s ODI Cricket World Cup Final, let us look back at the glorious careers of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami—Where Did It all begin? Statistics and legacies, ups and downs, the final hurrah, and of course what can we learn from the lives of India’s best women batter and fastest bowler?
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It has been 8216 days and 7291 days since Mithali Raj’s and Jhulan Goswami’s debut respectively. That is a really long time, let alone for a sporting career. Let us trace back to where it all began.
Jhulan Goswami did not actually start playing cricket till the relatively late age of 15. It was the 1997 ODI World Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand that sowed the seeds of cricket deep into her roots.
She was a ball picker in that World Cup final at the Eden Gardens when Australia’s World Cup winning celebrations ignited her passion to take up the sport.
It was now her dream to lift the World Cup trophy for India.
Mithali Raj’s talent was picked early, and she was in the national radar by the time she was 14. However, actually devoting her career to cricket was not such an easy decision.
Early Decisions, Discipline, and the Passion to Excel
In their interviews with Gaurav Kapur in Breakfast With Champions and Mithali Raj’s chat with Ravichandran Ashwin in DRS With Ash, we gain a bit of insight in their lives—Raj’s early interest & training in the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam, her fascination with books, and what obstacles both Goswami & Raj had to overcome during their journey.
Although both of their parents were supportive of their decisions to play cricket, there was backlash from extended family and the rest of society, especially when women’s cricket in India was in its infancy. Raj states that her toughest decision was to choose World Cup selection games over her 12th grade board exams. In any case, they both started training in cricket academies, disciplined their routines, and woke up around 4 AM to get ready for practice.
In Raj’s case, the discipline stemmed from an army family background. For Jhulan, originally from the small town of Chakdaha, it was the two hours travel by train for practice.
It was an evident in their early days of international cricket that these two were going to make an indelible impact in Indian cricket.
Opening the batting, Raj scored 114* against Ireland in her debut ODI on 26 June, 1999 just at the age of 16. Goswami would follow suit on January 5th, 2002, opening the bowling against England and returning with figures of 7-0-15-2. Her high arm release, bowling speed, and the beautiful smooth action would be a breath to behold in the years to come.
A few days later they would debut together against England in the first of only 12 Test matches.
Records and Statistics of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
In these tributes, I usually like to add a statistics section to paint the whole picture of the cricketer, but this one is a bit unique. Since Raj & Goswami have played so much cricket & have been consistently excellent, they practically have all the individual records to their name.
Slowly scroll down, sit back, and just reflect how dominant these two legends have been for two decades.
Joint Records Held by Raj & Goswami
- 2nd – Joint Longest Test Careers (debut 14 January, 2002)
- 157 – Highest Partnership for the 7th Wicket in Test Cricket (Aug 14-17, 2002)
Mithali Raj Stats
Mithali Raj Records
- Leading scorer in women’s cricket across formats (10454+)
- Only Indian captain to lead the country in two ODI World Cup finals
- 3rd Youngest Test Captain (At 22)
- Youngest Player to score 200+ (19)
- 2nd Highest Individual Score (214)
- Most Runs (7391* and counting)
- Longest ODI Career (Debut: 26 Jun 1999)
- Most Career Matches (220)
- Most Consecutive Matches (109 – Between April 2004-February 2013)
- Youngest Player to score 100+ (16)
- Hundred on Debut (114*)
- Most consecutive 50s (7 between 7 Feb-25 June 2017, 70*, 64, 73*, 51*, 54, 62*, 71)
- Joint Most 90s (5)
- Most Matches as ODI Captain (143)
- 2nd Most Innings Without Duck (74)
- 4th Most Catches (58)
- 5th Highest Career Batting Average (51.32)
- 2nd Fastest to 2000 Runs
- 3rd Highest Average (37.52)
- 2nd Most consecutive 50s (4 – 62, 73*, 54*, 76*)
Mithali Raj Awards
- 2003 – Arjuna Award
- 2005-2021 – ICC #1 ODI Batter (9 times in 15 Years)
- 2015 – Padma Shri
- 2017 – Wisden Leading Women Cricket in the World
- 2017 – BBC 100 Women
- 2021 – Khel Ratna
Jhulan Goswami Stats
4 W (ODI/T20I)
|10 W (Test)/|
5 W (ODI/T20I)
Jhulan Goswami Records
- Youngest player to take a 10-wicket haul in a women’s Test (23 years)
- Most Wickets Taken LBW (18)
- Most Wickets (240)
- Most Balls bowled in career (9387* and counting)
- Highest Number of Days As #1 Bowler
- 2nd Longest ODI career (debut 6 January, 2002)
- Most Wickets Taken LBW (53)
- 3rd – Most 4 wickets in an innings (9)
- One of 10 players with 100+ wickets/1000+ Runs
- 2nd Most Catches
- Most ducks (17 – Ouch)
- 3rd Most maidens
Jhulan Goswami Awards
- 2007 – ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year
- 2010 – Arjuna Award
- 2012 – Padma Sri
Jhulan Goswami’s best days came between 2006 & 2008. Her all-round form (3-46 & 2-62, 69 at #3, 5-33 & 5-45) helped India win a Test series in England on her way to become the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year.
World Cup Dream
Although Raj & Goswami have accomplished almost everything in the sport, there is one elusive achievement they have yet to realize—the World Cup dream.
Mithali Raj has played in 5 ODI World Cups, dating back to the 2000 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, when India made the semi-finals. Next time in 2005, both Jhulan & captain made the team. It would be India’s first run to the World Cup final, losing to Australia. Raj was India’s highest scorer with 199 runs (5th overall), and Jhulan was at #3 in the wickets (13 wickets).
Then followed two World Cups of relative disappointments.
Rock Bottom of 2009 & 2013
In 2009, India did not make it past the Super Six stage, but Raj made it into the Team of the tournament (247 runs, 2 – 50s, best of 75*). Goswami, who did not have a great time with the ball, was India’s captain during the tournament.
The 2013 Cricket World Cup, however, was arguably the lowest moment as India failed to get out of the qualifying stage. This time captaincy was back with Mithali Raj while Jhulan had a decent tournament with 9 wickets in just 4 games. Raj did score a 103* against Pakistan for the 7th Place Playoffs.Embed from Getty Images
Around this time, Jhulan & Raj graduated to become the seniors in the Indian national setup. In the 2010 T20 World Cup, Goswami recalls a conversation with Raj,
“I think we should take women’s cricket to such a platform where the young girls can get inspired…People won’t recognize women’s cricket until we do something at the World Cup.”
2017 World Cup and the Broken Dream
Post-2017, media coverage, funding, and women’s cricket grew in leaps and bounds. Mithali Raj herself reflects that she had more interviews after 2017 then in the first 18 years of her career.
India’s successful march to the finals was another great storyline of the tournament. By this time, a good core had formed around Raj & Goswami with Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, and Punam Raut all contributing with match -winning performances.
Raj followed up her consistent scores of 71, 45, 53, 69 with a 109-run knock against New Zealand. She ended up as the second highest run getter of the tournament with 409 runs (1 run behind Tammy Beaumont). Goswami had a decent run herself, taking 10 wickets overall with the best of 3/23 and providing India with miserly opening sells.
Despite the golden run, it was not to be as Anya Shrubsole’s magic deprived India of the World Cup victory.
So close, yet so far. Broken Cricket Dream.
T20 World Cups
India has not had the rub of the green in the T20 World Cups in T20 World Cups either. After qualifying for the semi-finals in 2009 & 2010, they crashed out in the group stages in 2012.
They did not get far in 2014 & 2016 either except that Mithali Raj was the 3rd highest run getter with 208 runs in 2014.
In 2018, India had a bright run with 4 wins in 4 matches in the group stage before crashing out in the semi-finals again. Mithali had retired by the time 2020 T20 World Cup came around and Jhulan did not play in a T20 World Cup since 2016.Embed from Getty Images
Captaincy & Controversies
Jhulan Goswami was India’s captain briefly from 2008 to 2011, captaining India in 25 ODIs (W: 12, L: 13).
Mithali Raj, on the other hand, has had a couple of captaincy stints. First was around the 2005 ODI Women’s World Cup, the second stint during the 2013 World Cup, and the final one around the 2017 Women’s World Cup. In all, she captained India in 8 Tests (W:3, D: 4, L: 1) and 143 ODIs (W: 85, L: 55), the most by any Indian captain.
The Captaincy-Controversy Complex
These days India’s captaincy is synonymous with controversy. The same applies here as well.
Although Ramesh Powar is back as India’s head coach now and the relationship has reconciled, in 2018, a public battle of words between Raj & coach Ramesh Power took place. There was discussion on Raj’s strike rate and batting position during the 2018 T20 World Cup and she was eventually dropped from the 2018 semifinals, which India lost.
Eventually, Mithali Raj retired from the T20Is in 2019 and Harmanpreet Kaur replaced Mithali as captain.
Women’s IPL Without Goswami & Raj Already a Failure for BCCI
Women’s IPL or the lack of has been a hot topic of discussion lately.
However, it has already failed before it began. In order to cultivate a strong fan base, Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami would have been wonderful ambassadors as players. I am sure they will still be invovled in some way or the other, but without creating a team around them, the BCCI has already lost a golden opportunity.
They have given everything for Indian cricket. They deserve one final farewell, preferably in front of their home crowd.
What Can We Learn from Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami?
Just like the 1997 World Cup moment inspired her, Jhulan herself has inspired numerous other cricketers like Pakistan’s Kainat Imtiaz (who was a ball picker when India toured Pakistan in 2005).
The legacies of Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami are far beyond the numbers. They have not only changed cricket but have also changed the perception of fans towards women’s cricket.
When they debuted, Indian women’s cricket was not at a great place. BCCI had not taken over women’s cricket yet, lots of the early tours required self-sponsoring, practices were on turf wickets, and the facilities/physios were not as prominent back then.
The fact that India has reached so many semi-finals & finals and a trophy seems to be right around the corner is credit to their work over the years. Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami have not only contributed by their own skills but have also mentored and brought others along the way.
Longevity & consistency, coming back from disappointments, breaking barriers, mentoring others, staying focused on your goals, and always, always daring to dream—This is what Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami teach me.
I hope their magnificent careers and lives teaches you some valuable life lessons as well.
Quotes on Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami
Here is some advice in their own words.
“Young boys and young girls saying – We saw your match, we want to play cricket, where can we go, and enroll ourselves? So that’s a success for me, because getting the girls to watch cricket is a big thing.’– Mithali Raj on Breakfast with Champions
“”Be committed and persistent in what [you] do. Channel your energy and be consistent”– Mithali Raj advice to young girls in DRS With Ash
“But winning the World Cup was a dream. You chase that dream. You wake up every day and think about lifting that trophy…But that blot will remain unless you win the World Cup. Irrespective of me being in the team or not.”-Jhulan Goswami on the World Cup dream
“I live with this dream. I live with this passion and want to do something for women’s cricket.”-Jhulan Goswami on Women’s Cricket
“You have been a trendsetter…an inspiration…and a role model.”– R Ashwin on Mithali Raj
Final Hurrah for the Iconic Duo?
Raj & Goswami are still fit and raring to go as we saw against Australia series this year. Goswami redeemed herself from a high pressure last over no-ball with a match winning shot in the very next game. They still have it in them.
On March 5th, 2022, India begins its journey to the 2022 Women’s ODI World Cup against Pakistan. Who knows, these might be the final 7 games that we might see of these legends.
We all hope that they can go two steps forward and achieve their World Cup dream. But even if they do not, it has been two delightful careers sandwiched in one that have mesmerized the fans for two decades.
Memories to behold.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
Jhulan Goswami Videos and Articles
- Jaffa To dismiss Meg Lanning
- 2017 ODI World Cup – Jhulan Goswami Feature
- Through The Gates to Alyssa Healy in a T20I
- Goswami’s Redemption in the 3rd ODI vs Australia
- Article by Niyantha Shekhar (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)
Mithali Raj Videos, Articles, Book, and Biopic
- Mithali Raj Sixes
- Chat With Ravichandran Ashwin in DRS With Ash
- Breakfast With Champions
- Article by Shashank Kishore (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)
- Interview With Annesa Ghosh (ESPNCricinfo’s Cricket Monthly)
- Unguarded (Autobiography)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where Is Mithali Raj from?
Mithali Raj was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India but currently resides in Hyderabad.
When is Mithali Raj's Birthday?
Mithali Raj was born on December 3, 1982.
Where is Jhulan Goswami from?
Goswami was born in Chakdaha, West Bengal, India.
When is Jhulan Goswami's Birthday?
Jhulan Goswami was born on November 25, 1983.
What teams has Jhulan Goswami played for?
Goswami has played for India, India Green, Asia Women XI, Bengal, East Zone, and the Trailblazers.
Which teams has Mithali Raj played for?
Raj has played for India, India Blue, Asia Women XI, Railways, Air India, and Velocity.
Further Reading: Women’s Cricket
Further Reading: Cricketing Heroes
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© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 12/22/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).