Diana Ma’am, you have been pioneer for women’s cricket in India: Jhulan Goswami

Leading wicket taker in One-day Internationals responds to the ICC Hall of Fame induction of Diana Edulji in a heartfelt open letter

Diana Edulji achieves historic entry into ICC Hall of Fame, credited to her 17-year international playing career and pivotal role in building India's most successful domestic women's cricket team. (photo: ICC)
Diana Edulji achieves historic entry into ICC Hall of Fame, credited to her 17-year international playing career and pivotal role in building India's most successful domestic women's cricket team. (photo: ICC)

Jhulan Goswami

Dear Diana Ma’am, 

It is an absolute honour for you, but also a very proud moment for women’s cricket in our country and a proud moment for India as a whole that you are being inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame. It is so well-deserved, you have been a pioneer for women’s cricket in our country. 

Your contributions over the years have been immense. It is not too much to say that the game would not be where it is in India without all your efforts. 

From a personal perspective, one of the biggest regrets of my career was that I never got to play against you. Like many young cricketers in India, I had grown up reading about you in the record books. Women’s cricket in India started in Mumbai in 1971 and you were there from the start.

We would read about your exploits, how you led the team and were so important to that side. As a player, your performances for the Indian cricket team in the 1970s and 1980s were legendary. 

By 1997, you had retired from international cricket but were still playing domestically. I remember playing in a tournament against Railways, but you did not play that game. I was just so excited to get the opportunity to meet you. After the game, I asked you what you thought of my bowling and you told me about the hard work it would take to make it as an international. 

Five years later, I made my debut for India and it was fitting that you were one of the national selectors. From there, our relationship often involved you giving me advice when I was struggling, picking out what I needed to work on. Every time you made a point, it would turn out to be valid. 

We did not always agree on everything but by the end, we always ended up on the same page. And I always knew that you had the same goal in mind, even if we sometimes had different ways of getting there. 

You are a born leader who has always taken the responsibility on your shoulders and led from the front. Winning and losing is a part of life, but you take the initiative and always try to contribute to society, that is the biggest achievement of all. 

I am pleased that your contributions to the game have been acknowledged. It was well-deserved when you became the first women’s cricketer to be awarded the Padma Shri in 2002, the civilian honour from the Indian government. In 1983, you were awarded the Arjuna Award to recognise your sporting achievements, again it was only right. 

It was during my playing career that I also started to understand your impact on the game in India – how you had helped the development of the Indian Railway women’s teams in 1984 that allowed women’s cricketers to play sport and work at the same time. Those administrative changes were transformational for cricket in our country. They are testament to how hard you have always fought for the game. 

Later, when you were present on the BCCI board, you made further huge contributions. You had played at the highest level and stayed involved in women’s cricket so you understood exactly what we needed. We had a voice to give our game the support it needed and we knew that we could turn to you for anything. 

That really was one of the biggest things that has happened to women’s cricket in our country. Everything you have done has been to help women’s cricketers. As a player you did so much, and since then, you have worked tirelessly to help the generations that have followed. 

From the youngster reading about your performances when I dreamt of playing for India, to the experienced international who had come to understand everything you had achieved, you have been an ever-present in my cricketing life. 

Diana, I am thrilled that you are being inducted into the Hall of Fame and I just want to say thank you for everything you have done for cricket in our country. 

All the best, 

Jhulan Goswami

(Column courtesy: ICC)

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