Kathakali has been a journalist for a decade and a half, working previously with The Telegraph and Times of India. An MA in political science and a Chevening Fellow, she writes on various themes--the business of sports, pop culture, startups, innovation--and co-produces the video series, From the Field. She is also part of the desk, editing, rewriting and putting the print edition to bed. Kathakali is a sports nut and collects autographs as a hobby. She enjoys travelling and music, and you'll often find her humming completely out of tune.
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jhulan Goswami of India poses for the camera on her last game for India at Lord's Cricket Ground on September 24, 2022 in London, England.
Image: Christopher Lee - ECB/ECB via Getty Images
Jhulan Goswami made her mark in international cricket at a time Indian fast bowlers, even in the men’s game, lurked somewhere in the background. By the time she called it a day, she totalled 355 international wickets, with 255 wickets in the ODI format, the highest by any female cricketer. Along with batter Mithali Raj, Goswami handheld Indian women’s cricket through the 2000s and 2010s and became one of the pathbreakers in the game. The bowling coach and the mentor for the WPL team Mumbai Indians tells Forbes India how she built up her illustrious career and the lessons she learnt from it.
The road to being the most prolific bowler in women’s ODIs with 255 wickets began by following a lot of mentors. I used to read a lot of books by my idols, and, while I don’t want to take any specific names, a lot of my seniors also taught me to take the right path. They would regularly ply me with ideas during matches, on how the pitch would play, how the weather would impact the game, how should I prepare to play before big matches and so on. When you have mentors in your formative years, you learn lessons that last you a lifetime.
Share your thoughts, clear your mind
Every time I stepped on the field, there have been pressure and expectations. If you are a professional athlete, you must learn to live with those. How you deal with those will set you apart as an athlete. And, for that, find the right people around you—it could be your parents, your friends, your childhood coach, your partner—and learn to communicate with them. You can’t find a solution if your mind is confused—you need to seek clarity by discussing your problems with your confidante. And that is my intention as the mentor of the Mumbai Indians WPL team as well, to communicate with the girls and show them the right path. This is a critical moment for young cricketers with so many opportunities but also a lot of scrutinies, including on social media, which they aren’t used to handling. The idea is to help them to focus on their cricket, which matters the most.
Break down your work to analyse the good and the bad
Like pressure and expectations, you will always have failures. There can never be only successes. The key is what you learn from failures. Identify the processes that have led to those successes and failures. I had a habit of journalling, breaking down every performance and writing them down in a diary. If I did well, I would break down how I prepared and what processes I put in, and the same for the days I would play under par. It would help me identify the right practices. One thing’s for sure—never be afraid of performance pressures, learn to deal with them. A performance graph never goes in a straight line. When you begin to enjoy the process, you will be in a better frame of mind.
Are you born a champion? Maybe. But, to me, a champion mindset comes through a process of development over time. You go through ups and downs and that experience helps you grow, it shows you the way forward. A champion mindset has to be created over years. And the more you go through the process, your body language and attitude will change, which will eventually fashion your champion mindset.