Playing the final of the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 at the Lord's in front of a packed house is a dream for any cricketer, male or female. Ask Anya Shrubsole, who had dreamt of playing a World Cup final at the 'Home of Cricket' as a 10-year-old, and fulfilled that dream in style.
Something similar can be said of Jhulan Goswami, who revealed keeping a patch of grass from the venue with herself as a memento when she first visited the venue back in 2001, and went on to be the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of 3/23 in the final 16 years later.
"Playing at the Lord's is a dream for any cricketer. When I first visited the venue in 2001, I went there as a tourist, and I had collected a bit of grass from the outfield, not knowing if I would ever get to return to the venue or be in the dressing room.
"We had played a few matches at Lord's, in 2006 and 2012 to name a couple of occasions, but playing the World Cup final at Lord's was a dream come true," narrated Goswami in a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.
It was a sentiment that opening batswoman Smriti Mandhana also echoed at the same event.
"As a kid, I used to dream of playing at Lord's, and unfortunately, we missed out on playing at Lord's in 2014 because the match was washed out. But I remember 'Jhulu di' (Jhulan) telling me and Shikha (Pandey) that not to worry, as the final of the 2017 World Cup would be at the same venue, and if we did well we would be playing.
"So that really happened, and it was like a dream come true, playing in front of a packed stadium," said Mandhana.
Goswami also praised the ICC for their efforts in promoting the World Cup globally. The tournament turned out to be a tremendous success, with the final being one of the most watched matches in the history of women's cricket.
"I have played four World Cups, and the way the ICC has conducted this World Cup, the way they promoted this tournament globally, I think it has created a new path ahead for women's cricket, and we have to give a serious thought to taking women's cricket forward in the said path," added Goswami.
Talking about the fast-bowling talent in India — a nation whose brand of cricket doesn't quite include the art as one of its core traits — Goswami was optimistic about players like Mansi Joshi, Shikha Pandey, and felt that the road ahead looked positive for the Indian bowling attack.
"There are the likes of Mansi, Shikha, Sukanya (Parida) and a few others who are match-winners on their day. Unfortunately, Mansi did not get too many chances in this tournament, but I definitely have a lot of faith in her because she has a spark. She gets a decent amount of swing, including late swing, and such aspects are crucial for bowlers. If only she can improve her fitness levels, I'm sure she can carry the legacy forward.
"The new generation of bowlers are working very hard, because training has become a very important part of their daily schedule, and hopefully we get more quality fast bowlers down the road," added Goswami, who recently became the leading wicket-taker in women's ODIs.