Jemimah Rodrigues: An all-rounder in the true sense

Having tasted moderate success, Jemimah has understood the challenges of staying at the top and raising the profile of women’s cricket in a country that’s crazy for the game played by her male counterparts.

Impressive show: Jemimah Rodrigues at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai during a practice match.   -  Vivek Bendre

Age: 17

From: Mumbai

Education: Pursuing HSC (Standard XII)

Discipline: Cricket

Beginning: She is still two months shy of getting a drivers’ license but the youngest of the three children to a couple that primarily runs coaching classes in suburban Mumbai has already built a reputation as one of the prospective driving forces of India women cricket’s batting. Welcome to the world of Jemimah Rodrigues.

At an age where most teenagers are confused about choosing a career path, Jemimah is on the threshold of dealing with options in plenty. She is good in studies, excellent in hockey and a brilliant batter — all-rounder for that matter — on a cricket field. Academics has definitely taken a backseat over the last couple of years. As for hockey, with the cricketer in her having risen to high standards, the stick-work has resulted in being restricted to a stress-buster for her.

Just like a majority of female cricketers, Jemi — as she is fondly known — started following her two elder brothers to a cricket ground in the neighbourhood under the watchful eyes of Ivan, their father. Once she started bettering boys her age, it didn’t take time for the Mumbai women’s coaches and selectors to spot her. At 12-1/2 years, she was first selected in the Mumbai Under-19 girls’ team. At the same time, she was also on the verge of breaking into the U-17 hockey team.

The aggressive opening batter continued her surge, with two innings at the fag end of 2017 in the Under-19 zonal tournament in Aurangabad — 178 against Gujarat followed by a 202 versus Saurashtra — catapulting her into the India A set-up. She impressed one and all in the big league and made her international debut during India’s tour to South Africa earlier this year. The Rodrigues household, just like the rest of the Indian women’s cricket fraternity, believes it’s just the beginning for Jemi.

Father and coach: Ivan Rodrigues (conducts coaching classes) is a disciplinarian on the cricket field and a religious, loving father off it. Over the years, Ivan, a former club cricketer, has mastered the art of honing Jemimah’s skills on and off the field. Be it cricket or hockey, Ivan remains Jemimah’s coach but he is also modest enough in admitting the help and appreciation received by some of the finest and sincere cricket brains on the maidans. “Kalpana Murkar (daughter of renowned coach Ramakant Achrekar) spotted her at the first summer camp and continued to back her all the way. Same is the case with Prashant Shetty, who selected her for MIG Club’s team at a tender age after watching her in a boys’ match against his club at Indian Gymkhana and Sanjay Gaitonde sir (former Mumbai U-19 coach) backed her to the hilt even when she was finding it difficult to notch up big runs at the Challengers or in the inter-zonal tournaments,” admits Rodrigues Sr.

Achievements: 2013: Represented Mumbai Under-19 cricket team at a tender age of 12-1/2 years.

2014: Represented Mumbai Under-17 hockey team.

2016: Represented Mumbai Under-19 both in cricket and hockey, taking over captaincy in cricket.

2017: In what turned out to be a breakthrough year for her, Jemimah amassed 1,013 runs and scalped 19 wickets in the BCCI Under-19 one-day tournament.

2017: Her 202 off 163 balls against Saurashtra was only the second double hundred by a woman cricketer in domestic cricket, emulating Smriti Mandhana’s feat in 2013.

2018: Scored a valuable 27-ball 37 on her T20I debut for India versus South Africa in Potchefstroom.

2018: Has featured in three ODIs and nine T20s so far, having scored 190 runs in international cricket.

Aim: She has achieved one of her biggest goals by making it to the highest echelons of the game. Having tasted moderate success, Jemimah has understood the challenges of staying at the top and raising the profile of women’s cricket in a country that’s crazy for the game played her male counterparts.

Strong point: “Desire to improve all the time is her forte. We keep discussing the finer points of her game in the evenings and at times I recite verses from the Bible to simplify some of the complex technical issues. It doesn’t take long for her to figure out her deficiencies and she quickly overcomes it,” says Ivan.