It’s all about the right preparation for Jemimah Rodrigues

Every time the 18-year-old gears up for an international assignment, her father and coach, Ivan, makes it a point to prepare her completely. This time too, ahead of the World Twenty20, has been no exception.

Jemimah Rodrigues says that playing with the boys at the MIG ground in October helped her remain strong mentally.   -  AP

At a glance, she appears to be just another teenager, one who loves strumming the guitar and singing aloud. Jemimah Rodrigues is shy of talking to people she is not familiar with and loves being a daddy’s girl.

But all that changes when the 18-year-old picks up the willow and hits the grounds. Out there, she is confident and never shies from having a go at the bowlers. Those who have known the Bandra girl since childhood agree that the youngster is extremely dedicated to her game and the cheerfulness takes a back seat whenever she dons the national colours.

That’s not all. Every time Jemimah gears up for an international assignment, her father and coach, Ivan, makes it a point to prepare her completely for the tournament. After all, that has been the secret of success for the Mumbai batswoman – it has always been about the right preparation.

This time too, ahead of the World Twenty20, has been no exception. For a week when she was home in Mumbai in October, Ivan left no stone unturned to get her into the right shape before she boarded the flight for the Caribbean. While she would train at the Mumbai Cricket Association academy with the senior women cricketers in the morning, Ivan would take Jemimah to the MIG Cricket Club ground in Bandra East later in the day to train with the boys.

The idea was to improve her uppish-hitting abilities. “At the MIG, she would train at the centre wicket and that helped her judge the ball well. That helped her better the uppish hitting. With the World T20 coming up, it was an important area that needed to be worked on,” Ivan said.

As she trained with first-division cricketers and some Ranji Trophy players, Ivan kept an eye on the distance the ball travelled and maintained notes. So the next time she would take to the pitch, the idea was to go further. “If you are playing on a covered ground, you cannot judge how much the ball has travelled. But playing at MIG, it was easy to assess that,” Ivan pointed out.

Before leaving for the West Indies, Jemimah admitted that playing with the boys at MIG helped her remain strong mentally. “It’s my first World Cup and it’s more of a mental preparation. (That’s why) I am working on it and even is training with the boys,” she said.

And even her father admitted that such a plan did prove effective for the young batter. “The coaches and the support staff at MIG also introduced various bowlers during the nets and she played them with ease. It was a good experience for her,” Ivan said.

A student of St Joseph’s Convent School in Bandra, Jemimah has been friends with Prithvi Shaw and Arjun Tendulkar since they were batch mates at the under-14 level at MIG. And her father is grateful to the club for helping them in preparation ahead of the World T20. “Most of the time, the MIG ground gets booked for matches. But the club authorities allowed us to practise at the centre wicket whenever it was available. It is a great help,” he said.

Since childhood, Jemimah played both hockey and cricket, only to choose the latter in the longer run. And every time she has walked into the middle, she has made it a point to take a tip or two from his father. “This time I have told her to keep calm and maintain her cool. The idea is not to take pressure and initially capitalize on the singles. If that can be done, runs will flow,” he said, drawing a reference to her stint in South Africa, where she was successful as she could capitalise on a good start. “You have to wait for the good start and if that is done, there will be no problems. Runs will come your way,” Ivan said.

Since making it to the Indian team earlier this year, Jemimah had credited the Bible for the transformation in her performance. And as she pads up for her first-ever World Cup event, the youngster plans to take a leaf out of the cricket rule book – work hard, play fair.

Well, that’s Jemimah for you!