Jemimah Rodrigues Photo Courtesy: Jemimah Rodrigues Instagram Account
Jemimah Rodrigues Photo Courtesy: Jemimah Rodrigues Instagram Account

India Women cricketers received a warm welcome back home despite losing the final against England in the 2017 World Cup. While the glamour was still nowhere close to that of their male counterparts, there were moves towards taking women s cricket forward in India. Debates over a Women s IPL surfaced across cricket forums and social media. However, BCCI denied any such event to take place in the near future, courtesy insufficient funds.

In August, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami decided to take the matter in their hands. An intense discussion with the Indian board not only surged their pay but also launched an A team, just like the men s. As the next step, the India A squad was announced on Tuesday night. India Women cricketers Devika Vaidya, Vanitha VR and MD Thirushkamini will be seen back in the blues from December 2. Apart from these regular names, a petite girl in particular caught the eyes of many, although it was no surprise: Jemimah Rodrigues.

Jemimah: A star in the making

Jemimah, 17, is ready to take up the responsibility at the next level. Of course, she is elated to take the penultimate step towards achieving her dream, that of playing for India.

It has not been an easy road for Jemimah. She has been inclined to cricket since the age of 4. Her brothers were an inspiration. Her father Ivan Rodrigues wanted Jemimah to take up the sport as well. Ivan supported her in every phase and coached her. He continues to coach her school team St Joseph Convent School, Bandra.

Jemimah Rodrigues: The next big name in women’s cricket?
Jemimah Rodrigues: The next big name in women’s cricket?

The biggest challenge that Jemimah faced, as her father recalls, is being a girl. She was never picked by clubs. With no support from anyone, Ivan was forced to plead to coaches and clubs to take Jemimah: As and when tournaments took place, the focus was only on boys, organised by MCA. Mumbai does not host a single tournament for girls till today.

During her MIG cricket club days, the ruckus continued. MIG was open to have a girl play for their club. However, the organisers threw a fit.

#202notout

A post shared by Jemimah Rodrigues (@jemimahrodrigues) on

 

However, he is satisfied that her hard work is paying off, It brings joy and satisfaction seeing Jemimah performing and the stage where she has reached. But ultimately it is India camp for me. Be it her double-century, it is the India camp. Even if you say India A, it is India camp for me. That is the goal I am dreaming for.

He also thanked BCCI for organising the first ever Women s A matches: BCCI including MCA and other organisations have really played a part in raising and giving opportunity to youngsters to play more First-Class tournaments.

When I asked Jemimah about her reactions on making it to the India A squad, her happiness knew no bounds: I am really happy. It is like a dream come true. I am just one step away from living my dream which is playing for India.

Word of praise

Jemmy will be soon seen bonding with Devika. The duo have played together during their West Zone days. She has also faced Vanitha in domestic matches. While Vanitha and Devika have gone on to play for India, this is Jemimah s first appearance at the next level.

Jemimah is eager to learn from the experienced lot: Batting with two amazing batters will be an honour for me. They have been very supportive. They congratulated me once I got selected for the India A squad. I will get to learn a lot from them.

Devika is aware of Jemimah s style of play: She is a very talented and natural cricketer. She plans her innings and knows what to do next. For her age, she is a matured player and focused as well.

Vanitha had noticed the little girl in the NCA camps as well. She considers her to be the future of India Women: Through the NCA camp, I got to see Jemimah a lot. She is the future I see. She is also a brilliant fielder. She is a very positive player.

However, recognition and accolades are not focus for Jemimah at the moment. She aspires to continue her consistency for India A, like her idol Mithali: I want to keep performing consistently. With the experience here, it will boost my morale further.

Rise and rise of women s cricket

Vanitha and Devika were not part of the Women s World Cup. They continued playing cricket nevertheless. While Vanitha was busy with practice matches and organising cricket tournaments (KPL and pink ball cricket), Devika concentrated on her fitness and training camps.

It is great to be back. I have been playing practice matches and we have played some matches through NCA. So I am in good touch. So we are in good nick with the game, added Vanitha.

Devika is pinning her hope on this platform to move to the next stage: India A matches can give me confidence for the next level. If I do well here, I’ll be confident to play well in the next stage.

She is equally waiting to play alongside Vanitha, too: I have played with her in NCA. She is more like an attacking player. I am sure Arothe Sir will make use of her strength.

BCCI s initiative has come as a breather amidst the rigorous schedule of men s cricket. Devika could not help but praise BCCI for their efforts: It is a very good initiative. Through these A series, we will get to play with the youngsters as well. It is an excellent opportunity for the youngsters too as they will get to know what it is like to play at an international level. In domestic matches, we have been playing with each other for very long time. Now we will get to know what is like to play with A teams of the other countries too.

Vanitha, on the other hand thinks the youngsters can benefit from this platform: This is one of the biggest step that BCCI has taken. A couple of good innings from anyone of us could change fortunes. So this is a good platform.

India A will be playing Bangladesh A at home. The series comprises of 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is. The warm-up matches begin from November 26. This series may well open avenues for the young girls to make it to the senior squad ahead of the South Africa tour in January.