By Sudatta Mukherjee
One fine morning in Kolkata, almost a decade back, I woke up and went ahead with my ritualistic tea and newspaper moment. I always read the newspaper from the back page, starting with the sports section. Going through the sports page, I came across an article on a young girl who was about to begin her cricketing career with England. I read the piece several times that day. I vividly remember, going to school and trying to find someone to discuss the particular piece.
What interested me most was the fact that a Bengali family moved to England around 1965. The man of the house sold refrigeration units to supermarket. Two decades later he became the father of a girl, Isa Guha, who went on to representEngland in cricket – a dream the girl nursed ever since her older brother introduced her to the game.
Isa has played as a medium-pacer with distinction for England, occupying the No 1 slot in ICC bowling rankings. She has been a part of a World Cup-winning team and her nine for 100 helped England register a series win over Australia. Just 26, she announced her retirement from cricket on the very day Rahul Dravid bid farewell to international cricket with 108 ODI wickets at a very respectable 23.21. Isa also played eight Tests, in which she captured 29 wickets at 18.93.
In India, there are many like Isa who have achieved greater heights. Jhulan Goswami, for example, is just four short of becoming the highest wicket-taker for India, surpassing Neetu David’s record wickets of 141 wickets from 97 ODIs. Jhulan is presently the third highest wicket-taker in women’s cricket and still playing for the national team. But there is little space available for women’s cricket in the Indian newspapers.
What’s most surprising is that in a cricket-crazy nation, where male cricketers are treated like gods, women cricket has just not got the attention and importance it deserves. The Indian women cricketers have done exceptionally well at the international level, yet they continue to suffer from neglect.
Isa may have played for England, but let’s rise to salute the first woman of Indian origin to play for England - and retire as a champion.
Well done, Isa.
(Sudatta Mukherjee claims to be a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. She is affable, crazy and a wannabe writer. Her Twitter ID is @blackrosegal. Oh yes! You do know her!)