Mumbai: The bond between a father and daughter is always something special. And when there is just one daughter among sons their ranking goes up further.
Case in point: Jemimah Rodrigues, a new face in the Indian women's cricket team. Jemimah, started playing the game when she was only four years old, just for fun, with her elder brothers Eli, and Enoch.
Little did she know that one day she would go on to don the Indian colours as the baby of the team, and that too at the highest level - for the World Cup. But, there was a family secret, shared by only two persons in the family.
“We wanted her to play the game at the highest level," chorus her parents, father Ivan and mother Lavita. In the process, Jemimah ended up fulfilling her father' unfulfilled dream - to wear the Indian cap. “Yes, he always wanted to play the game at the highest level and I am happy I have done it for him,” Jemimah told The Free Press Journal.
Her commitment to the gentleman’s game is such that it has made it the lady's game. She has a special memory of the time she walked to the Mumbai Cricket Association’s summer camp, holding her father’s hand. Many at the camp must have never in their wildest dreams imagined that the pint-sized brat would turn out to become one of the bright stars in Indian women’s cricket.
She was just an eightyear-old kid then. She was at the camp as a pace bowler, and it took her just three deliveries to prove, that she had the right stuff, as her third delivery claimed a wicket. However, that was not what she was going to be.
“I shifted from bowling pace to spin.” That also did not get her into the groove. But, batting among boys much older than her and taking on fierce bowling attacks made the difference. She would frustrate the bowlers by holding on to the crease and defiantly defending her wicket.
It was here that her parents, her father, to be specific, based on advice from the people in the church, shifted their residence from Bhandup to Bandra. “I joined St Joseph’s High School in Bandra,” said Jemimah, who joined the school as a Class III standard student and picked hockey as her sport.
But again, there was nothing that could keep her away from cricket. She continued to play cricket with her brothers at home and would accompany them to the ground where they played. The godfearing Ivan would use the Bible to help Jemimah cope wherever she was down and out in cricket.
Soon, Jemimah got into the game and was among the others, making her way into the Mumbai side as the baby of the team in the under-16 and 23 cadres. Her commitment and dedication saw her hit the headlines with her batting prowess. Soon, her leadership qualities too were spotted and she was made the skipper of the Under-19 and U-23 state teams, when she was just 16.
“Yes, there were times when I used to ponder, how the older players in the side would react." But in that context too, her maturity bubbled up, "I think the way you say it is important. You should know how to get your work done as a captain”. And then the big, double hundred knock saw her get the call for the national side.
Ever since, she has been trying to prove the selectors right and make the most of it for the country, making one wonder what records will she leave tumbling by the wayside. “No, it is not for records that I play, but to enjoy the game and make our country stand tall among others,” she avers. "Goals are not what I look for but the goals look for me," she signs off.