When 17-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues, representing Mumbai in the U-19 West Zone inter-zonal One Day against Saurashtra slammed an unbeaten 163-ball 202 in November last year, she probably knew that the India Cap was coming sooner rather than later.
For years, women’s cricket suffered from the lack of new faces. There’s always been veteran batswoman Mithali Raj, pacer Jhulan Goswami and then there’s T20 skipper Hermanpreet Kaur. While they’re great players, sport, in order to thrive, needs new players (re: characters).
Simply put, Jemimah isn’t eccentric or flamboyant. She isn’t your normal 17-year-old Bandra (Mumbai) girl either. She comes across as timid, but that’s without a bat in her hand. She’s a nightmare to bowlers and a bore to wicketkeepers (because she seldom misses a shot).
Jemimah debuted for India against South Africa in February this year, and though she didn’t have an overtly great series, the selectors knew that their choice was going to reap huge benefits in the long run. And they didn’t have to wait a lot. Against Australia in the ODI series in Vadodara, Jemimah, who opened the innings for the country for the first time, scored a solid 55-ball 42 and suddenly everyone hailed her as a replacement to Mithali.
In the T20 tri-series against Australia and England at the Brabourne Stadium in March, Jemimah showed her capabilities, even notching up her first international half century. But she remained humble, especially when comparisons were drawn between her and Mithali.
“She (Mithali) is very positive while batting. It’s fun to bat with her and we had a good time while batting. She guides me, telling me to go after which bowler and against which bowler we should take singles. It’s really fun to bat with her. She is my role model and of course, it was a good learning experience for me,” Jemimah said, completely ignoring the comparisons. When prodded further, she said, “You cannot, just cannot compare me with her. I’m nowhere near her,” that’s all that she said.