Rongsen Jonathan — breaking the stereotype

‘If you are good at what you do, no one can stop you’

It was a blessing when First Class cricket was introduced in the northeast, as Jonathan got the chance to play for Nagaland.   -  special arrangement

Rongsen Jonathan says his home State of Nagaland is “obsessed with football”. Jonathan, however, took a liking for cricket from a young age.

Going off the beaten track has posed some challenges, but it has led to considerable success as well. The journey began when his father moved to Bengaluru in 1997 to pursue a PhD, when Jonathan was 12.

“I played cricket from a young age, but we didn’t have best of facilities back home in Nagaland. All that changed when I came to Bangalore and joined St. Joseph's Boys' High School,” Jonathan says.

“I was lucky to have players like Robin Uthappa in the school team, and to play in big tournaments like the Cottonian Shield and Parle G Cup. I won the best batsman award in the Cottonian Shield, and then got picked for the Karnataka under-16 team.

In the Karnataka under-16 team, I was not nearly as good as guys like Robin, Gaurav Dhiman and Ryan Ninan, but I worked hard to catch up with them.”

Jonathan found it tough off the field as well. His parents had moved back to Dimapur, while he stayed back in Bengaluru in a paying guest accommodation to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional cricketer.

Breaking stereotypes

Jonathan refused to give up, and his perseverance eventually paid off.

He rose through the ranks to represent Karnataka, Railways and Nagaland on the senior domestic circuit. Most recently, the batsman was picked up by Bengaluru Blasters for ₹6 lakh in the Karnataka Premier League auction.

The 32-year-old explains that it was tough to break some stereotypes associated with people from the northeast. “Being a northeast cricketer was difficult, as most people view us as footballers. There were people who made it tough for me, but I feel that if you are good at what you do, no one can stop you,” Jonathan, the Bengaluru Bulls captain, says.

A blessing

It was a blessing when First Class cricket was introduced in the northeast, as Jonathan got the chance to play for Nagaland.

“As a kid, I never imagined that the Ranji Trophy would come to my State. This is the biggest reward for us,” he says.