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Talent matters more than age, says 13-year-old cricketer and hockey player Jemimah Rodrigues

Jemimah Rodrigues  Photo Courtesy: DNA
Jemimah Rodrigues Photo Courtesy: DNA

By Adit Ganguly

Mumbai: Feb 5, 2014

At an age when most girls refuse to part with their Barbie dolls, Jemimah Rodrigues fell in love with a cricket bat. Soon after her fourth birthday, she made the transition from plastic to the hard red ball. All those hours in the company of her father and two elder brothers has finally paid off. Now 13, Jemimah is part of the Mumbai Under-19 team. What’s more, the St Joseph’s Convent High School (Bandra) student has represented Mumbai and Maharashtra at the Under-17 level in hockey. Phew!

You know what it takes to be a cricketer in this part of the world. This was something Jemimah realised very early. He enjoyed a distinct advantage: most of her competitors were three to four years older. It only toughened her up.

“It never was easy. There was pressure since Day One. Practising with boys helped me immensely as the quality between their cricket and our cricket is immense. I’ve always played against older and better players in the camps. Over time, I learnt that merit and talent hold far more importance than age.”

Jemimah opens the batting or walks in at No. 3, but it’s her bowling skills that got her into the local team.

“I still remember my very first selection camp. It was a Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) camp at Shivaji Park back in 2008. The older girls kept laughing at me. I was way too short, and young too. My brother just told them to wait and watch,” the right-hander recalled.

Jemimah is the star of her school and captains the institution’s cricket and hockey teams. Her achievements are on display on the notice board.

“Jemimah is a people’s person. She knows how to keep everyone happy and motivated. She has the temperament and the mentality to lead from the front and stay at the wicket for a long time. What sets her apart from the others is how she manages to talk to older players in the exact same manner as she does with the newcomers,” says her father and coach of the cricket side, Ivan Rodrigues.

Jemimah’s preoccupation with cricket and hockey has forced her to give up basketball and football. Yes, she’s good at these games too! Many a time, her sporting prowess has led to onlookers mistake her for a boy.

“Most people are surprised when they see the ‘Mumbai Under-19’ logo on my shirt. I feel very proud, very happy. But I have a long way to go. I want to be the youngest player to represent the country.” said the die-hard Rohit Sharma fan.

Jemimah, who started playing with the hard red ball at the age of four, practised with her father and two older brothers. An all-rounder in every sense of the world, she has already represented Mumbai and Maharashtra in hockey (Under-17). She also plays basketball and football

(Adit Ganguly is a sports journalist with DNA newspaper. He is a fast-food lover, movie buff and Chelsea fan. His Twitter handle is @aditganguly. The above article first appeared in DNA)

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