The Australian women’s cricket team has given so much to the sport, measuring the worth of which would create a stockpile of records and anecdotes that would stand tall like the Great Dividing Range. In the current conception of the women’s game, you simply cannot imagine any woman’s dream line-up without the ‘Mega-Star’ Meg Lanning or ‘Pez’ Ellyse Perry. They are your match-winners you simply cannot afford to ignore in any line-up, regardless of format.
Modern legends like Megan Schutt have done more to the game siding often with batters than just pick hat-tricks; she’s placed the off-cutter at the epicentre of a batswoman’s downfall in the most unreadable way.
If you were to sift back the pages of the glorious chapters of Australian women’s cricket, you’d arrive at a summit of greatness called Belinda Clark. Where there are countless books written in awe of cricketers, imagine having a medal, almost a crown of recognition in one’s honour?
Then there’s Karen Rolton.
Where legends like Brian Lara and Darren Sammy have stadiums named after them, the women of the sport aren’t far behind. When Cricket Australia came up with the Karen Rolton Oval, the board didn’t just build a stadia; it came up with a huge decoration of excellence celebrating an ICC Hall-of-Fame inductee.
But is that all?
Two decades back, exactly on June 24, 2001, a New South Wales Batter did something special in the pinnacle of the women’s contest, something no batter had previously achieved in the six and a half decades of playing Test match cricket before.
When Blacktown-born Michelle Goszko reached a double hundred against England at Shenley, Australia evidenced the rise of a star, England ran into a dangerous run-maker, and women’s cricket saw an incredible talent raising the bar of the contest.
Michelle Goszko- big-hitter, fluent run-scorer, a hard-as-nails cricketer, a quintessential straight-talking Aussie- achieved a career-best Test score of 204 as she ran down an English attack comprising stand out stars like Clare Connor (104 wickets), Clare Taylor (127 wickets), and Nicky Shaw (76 wickets).
To many fans, evidencing a Test double ton is part and parcel of batting for long hours. Something you’d expect cricketers at the highest level to produce out of countless hours of practice and endless drills.
But things become special when a debutant plunders a double hundred and that too, against one of the very best sides there is.
When the right-handed batter raised her bat to acknowledge the crowd for a double century, then in the space of a single effort, Michelle Goszko broke two records, proving yet again why the Australians always bring that something extra to the fore.
When the big-hitting batter passed the score of 131, she beat the previous record of the highest-score recorded by a Test debutant, passing the great Mel Jones of Australia. But in the process of doing so, Goszko broke what was a 112-year-record and found herself in the record books soon as she broke into international cricket’s most rated format.
And upon reaching 204, which wasn’t after firing 24 hits to the fence, she equalled the highest individual score for any batswoman since Tests began in 1934.
Of course, her compatriot Ellyse Perry’s undefeated 213, scored during the Women’s Ashes of 2017, remains the highest score by any batter in women’s Tests to this day, but until then, Michelle Goszko’s record stood unchallenged for sixteen long years.
Someone regarded for clean hitting and the ability to read the line of the ball, Michelle Goszko, 43 today, emerged big when aged just 23.
Just how often does cricket afford a chance to a newcomer to find a place in history books soon as one arrives?
But it ought to be remembered, Michelle Goszko fired her 204, her only Test century, in a line up that featured two of the timeless greats of Australia in Belinda Clark and Karen Rolton.
One thing to score plenty of runs, but something quite special to outscore established entities in a line-up.
To this day, the fiery 204 remains the highest-individual score by a Test debutant, something no batter has been able to defeat be it Mithali Raj, Stafanie Taylor, Bismah Maroof, Suzie Bates or the great Meg Lanning herself.
Goszko’s runs helped Australia earn an innings victory in the First Test of the 2001 season and her ability to focus for long hours provided a line up that always had a space to accommodate, a talent that seemed ready to embrace Test cricket’s sternest challenges.
When she struck her double ton, she became only the nineteenth Aussie to score a Test century and lorded headlines for an emphatic 395-ball stay at the crease.
Though what’s rather sad is that a career that began so solidly ended up contesting in merely 4 Tests from the period of 2001-06, from which Goszko was able to add only thirteen more runs in the innings that followed.
What she also missed out on was perhaps a fifty, the column left blank after appearing for Australia for five Test outings.
Though for someone who once averaged an astonishing 128 with the bat, after scoring no fewer than 512 runs in the Sydney Grade Competition (2001), in which she also picked 14 wickets, what should’ve translated into a mega career became a spurt of occasional brilliance for the fearless Michelle Goszko in Tests.
However, she was able to score nearly 700 runs at 25 in the 50-over format and is still recounted for her clean striking.
But someone who once famously said, “They say love is a multicultural language, but I think cricket is,” one reckons you can neither blame the fan nor the Australian cricket fraternity for instantly falling in love with the woman who blazed a trail immediately upon arriving in the middle in her very first go at international cricket.