Cricketer Jemimah Rodrigues on being dropped, her comeback, and more

By Rekha Balakrishnan
July 22, 2022, Updated on : Fri Jul 29 2022 03:20:32 GMT+0000
Star batter in the Indian cricket team, Jemimah Rodrigues speaks to HerStory on being dropped, bouncing back, and her popularity as a content creator.
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When Jemimah Rodrigues was dropped from the India squad for the ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, she admits she was both disappointed and frustrated.


In an exclusive conversation with HerStory, the 21-year-old, known for her batting prowess, recalls that the rough patch also taught her a few life lessons.

Jemimah Rodrigues


“Being dropped is never a pleasant thing for any sportsperson. But it has taught me that it’s a part of life,” she says.


Jemimah reveals that she was not in a “good headspace” for the first few days, and took a break from cricket for a while because she was finding it difficult to focus on practice, which she normally enjoyed very much.


“That was never me. I loved playing cricket. The break helped me work on a lot of things and make most of the time I had on hand,” she says.

Tough times don’t last

Watching the World Cup on TV made her feel even more desolate.


But, speaking with top players and Jemimah’s heroes in the game, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant, helped.


She shares, “They have been through difficult situations like this too. But they are legends right now. Speaking to them gave me a lot of hope and confidence. Rohit bhaiyya reminded me that tough times don’t last, tough people do. And it’s not the end of the world; there will be opportunities and to be prepared for those.”


True to her nature and form, Jemimah bounced back in the senior women’s league and in India’s tour of Sri Lanka where she won the player of the match title.


Playing cricket in a country when the men’s version of the sport is akin to a religion, it’s exciting to see women working hard to level the playing field.


Jemimah thinks the scenario is much better than when she first started playing cricket in 2017. She recalls being the only girl among 400 boys playing cricket on the ground. People who came home would tell her parents, ‘pata nahin, yeh kya cricket khelegi, kucch aur sport khelne do (don’t know how she will play cricket, let her take up any other sport)’.


But having started at the age of four, she was too young to understand the “noise” around her. Her parents understood her love for the game - that was all that mattered. She points out it’s tougher for those who don’t have this kind of familial support.

From gully cricket to world stage

Jemimah

Jemimah played cricket in the gullies of Bhandup, a suburb in Mumbai, with her brothers, Enoch and Eli. When her parents discovered their children were serious about the game, they shifted to Bandra, saving them a tough commute.


“We were small kids, in Mumbai locals at peak time, and changing trains were getting tough. We stayed at the home of our pastor, Brother Manuel, for a few months while ours was getting ready,” she reminisces.


The pastor also introduced Jemimah to hockey, which she took to easily. She was also selected to the Under-19 team. Her parents were okay with her picking up either hockey or cricket but Jemimah was in a dilemma as she was good at both.

“I had to make a tough choice. I cried a little but my dad said it’s all up to you. I thought since I’d reached the higher level in cricket, I’d go ahead with it. In 2018, I made my debut in South Africa at the age of 17. And, it was a dream come true,” she says.

In recent years, women’s cricket has brought a lot of talent to the fore – Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, and all-time favourite Mithali Raj, who retired from the game recently. But there’s a lot to be done to bring talent from smaller towns into the forefront.


Jemimah believes a women’s edition of the IPL with games played in smaller towns will definitely change the face of women’s cricket.


“I remember we had gone to Baroda to play against Australia and were amazed by the crowd that turned up. Parents had got their young girls to watch the game. One good thing we can do as players is to play cricket in small downs and spend time with girls. Who knows, they might fall in love with cricket and pick it up too. It all begins with a dream, right?” she says.

Playing with ‘content’

Jemimah


Jemimah’s bubbly personality and her knack for creating content have made her a social media star. Does creating content come naturally?

“I am just a go-with-the-flow kind of person. My brothers Enoch and Eli are very creative. One is into video editing and photography; the other is into music. They help me with my social media. A lot of times, they are the ones doing it; I’m just acting.”

A demanding sport like cricket requires a lot of mental fitness as well. How does Jemimah deal with that?


A deeply spiritual person, she turns to the Bible for courage and strength. She lets off steam by talking to her parents, and says sports psychologists provide support when required.


And, taking a leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book, Jemimah uninstalls Twitter and Instagram or stays away from social media whenever she is playing.

She explains, “I had spoken to Virat Kohli about this, and told me that he stays off social media while playing cricket for India. One stray comment among a 100 nice comments may be the one that sticks. So, I’d rather stay away.”

In her spare time, Jemimah loves strumming on her guitar and listening to music. And if ever, she were to start a business, , she would like to open a chai ki tapri (a tea stall) in Mumbai.


“I love chai, so a tapri seems like the right idea, or maybe even a café,” Jemimah says, with a laugh.


Edited by Teja Lele