Last year, on November 5, she became the youngest Indian to score a double hundred in a first-class game; and a fortnight later, on November 20, she received a debut call-up to the India ‘A’ side. And on Wednesday, Jemimah Rodrigues was named in the Indian women’s cricket squad for the South Africa tour.
Three milestones accomplished in the span of just over two months by a 17-year-old. If there’s a reason this is not part of a Bollywood script but simply one’s achievements, it’s perhaps because Jemimah started playing with the season ball at the age of four.
Of the innumerable cricketers that the city of Mumbai has gifted the nation, Jemimah is probably just another kid in the block. With two brothers to look up to who play cricket, her father Ivan Rodrigues states that it could be the reason his daughter got acquainted to the sport early on.
“At the age of four she started playing season cricket. Around the age of two she probably used to play with plastic balls and bats, never the dolls,” says a proud father saw who got the news through India international Punam Raut on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is a dream for every parent who are sportspersons, to see their children play for India,” Ivan added.
The senior Rodrigues, who was once a club cricketer and now a junior coach, however, didn’t find it tough to demarcate the lines of being a father and a coach.
“When it’s cricket, I’m just their coach not a father. I’m very strict at that and they also know it. When she was small she got hammering also, especially when her feet were not moving,” Ivan said.
Jemimah shot into the limelight after she emulated Smriti Mandhana’s feat to slam a double hundred in an under-19 match. Studded with 24 fours, her unbeaten 202 off 163 balls against Saurashtra was the icing on what has been a pretty illustrious budding career. With 1,013 runs, she ended as the tournament’s highest run-getter.
However, there’s more drama to her life. “When she was 10-years-old, she was selected to play hockey for Maharashtra. In fact, she was the youngest there as well. I felt she might pursue hockey but at 12-and-a-half-years, she got selected for Mumbai after it became a stand-alone body.”
So how did cricket overcome hockey? Ivan says it hasn’t.
“If you ask her if she wants to play hockey, she’ll say she wants to play hockey. My dream was that my children should play for India whether it’s in cricket or hockey. Now even if she gets to play both the games for her country, she’s ready to play both the games for her country,” he added. “She hasn’t given up on hockey. When she gets tired she takes up a stick and plays hockey. That’s her relaxation.”
He also recalled that Jemimah would field for close to two hours only to get 10-15 minutes of batting. While her brothers got to bat for close to an hour each, Jemimah would help her father by fielding for them.
“She would not bowl to her brothers. I used to coach the two brothers and Jemimah. She used to be called for fielding. Her brothers used to play for one hour each and she used to get around 10-15 minutes of batting. But because of those 10-15 minutes, she used to come down to field,” Ivan concluded.