Jemimah Rodrigues is still in her early twenties; give her some time.


On 3rd July 2021, Jemimah Rodrigues, dejected and disappointed, walked back to the pavilion having been castled by Sophie Ecclestone. Prior to her dismissal, she had scratched around for 20 balls with only four runs to show for it.

Immediately, the cameras panned towards the stands, where a flock of Indian supporters had gathered, hoping to witness a glimpse of the enormous talent Jemimah possesses.

Unfortunately, as has been the case for the past year and a bit, that hardly seemed like coming to fruition. Not just because Jemimah has endured a slight dip in form, but also because she has, for all the ability at her disposal, not been able to stitch together a consistent run of games.

More recently and specifically in The Hundred, Jemimah seems to have regained her mojo, so much so that former England men’s cricketer Kevin Pietersen openly stated that the Indian was now his favorite player.

Prima facie, it seemed like the reaction of someone who had watched a batting masterclass live (read Jemimah’s 92* against Welsh Fire). On further introspection, though, it seemed a reaction that was simply befitting of a player boasting Jemimah’s class.

Back when Jemimah started her international career, such praise was pretty effusive for she had, even at that tender age, managed to stamp her authority on international games. A period of extraordinary success followed, including an excellent stint at the Yorkshire Diamonds in the now-defunct Kia Super League in 2019.

All of a sudden, Jemimah was touted as a world-beater. At that point, she was still only a teenager. Currently, she is just a tick over twenty years of age. However, if one were to rummage through the ups and downs she has had, one might be forgiven for thinking that she’s an experienced campaigner who’s fighting for her career. That, though, couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Over the past few years, the Indian women’s cricketing landscape has grown in stature and deservedly so. Many contemporary cricketers, namely Harmanpreet KaurSmriti Mandhana and more recently Shafali Verma, have generated immense fanfare courtesy of their excellent performances.

To an extent, Jemimah also falls in that bracket, for her quality remains undeniable. Yet, the expectations also seem to have morphed into unnecessary pressure – something that might even be weighing her down.

Jemimah Rodrigues has not been in great form for India lately

Jemimah Rodrigues (L) has blown hot and cold since the start of 2020
Jemimah Rodrigues (L) has blown hot and cold since the start of 2020

Since the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2020, Jemimah has not had a consistent run in the side. Though she was ever-present during India’s historic run to the summit clash, she wasn’t really at her best even at that tournament.

As far as numbers are concerned, Jemimah has a career average of 26.37 in Women’s T20 Internationals. She has also scored those runs at a strike rate of 111.16, which, considering her exploits elsewhere, is a tad sluggish.

Since the start of 2020, she has batted in 12 WT20Is and has not crossed fifty a single time. More damningly, she has only played four innings at a strike rate higher than her career strike rate during this period. On all other occasions, she has huffed and puffed, meaning that her inherent batting elegance hasn’t had a chance to shine

At first, it might seem that this aberration is just an effect of a player losing a head of steam. However, a few factors (controllable and uncontrollable) might have led to this particular predicament.

When speaking of Jemimah’s pedigree in T20 cricket, people are quick to point towards her spectacular showing in the Kia Super League in 2019, when she represented the Yorkshire Diamonds and creamed 401 runs in 10 innings at an average of 57.28 and a strike rate of 149.62.

For the majority of those games, Jemimah was given the freedom to express herself. Even on days when she couldn’t get going, she was given the requisite backing to ensure that she would come up trumps, more often than not.

Though one isn’t speculating that the same is untrue in the Indian setup, there seems to be a touch more pressure on Jemimah – something that perhaps rids her of the confidence she needs to impose herself on games.

In fact, it is rather intriguing that Jemimah, days after perhaps her lowest ebb in international cricket, has come out all guns blazing in The Hundred. Post both essays, Jemimah was quick to suggest that the Northern Superchargers felt like a family and that she felt comfortable in the environment. And that she was relieved above all.

More importantly, she talked about wanting to take responsibility, which, considering her age, is a massive achievement in itself. It also shed light on how India could perhaps bestow responsibility upon her but not burden her with pressure.

Jemimah Rodrigues has been brilliant in The Hundred
Jemimah Rodrigues has been brilliant in The Hundred

As things stand, Jemimah might not find a place in India’s first-choice eleven in WODIs and WT20Is. While Punam Raut, who has a diametrically opposite batting method, has shunted Jemimah out of the ODI door, Harleen Deol has been the beneficiary of the Northern Superchargers batter’s recent woes in the shortest format.

Thus, a case could be made for the Indian women’s cricket team to rejig their line-up and ensure that they find a spot for Jemimah. Not just because she needs that kind of security to optimally utilize her potential, but also because the Women In Blue are in dire need of a batter capable of effortlessly increasing the tempo.

At present, the likes of Harmanpreet, Shafali and Smriti have to shoulder a humongous amount of batting load, especially if India are to post totals that are beyond their opponents’ reach. In Jemimah, though, they might have another batter to bank upon, provided they are willing to place trust in the youngster.

Moreover, Jemimah’s greatest achievements have been on foreign shores where the wickets have been quick and have been more conducive to her style of batting. And with a WODI World Cup in New Zealand on the horizon, maybe the time could be ripe to reinstate her in the ODI side – and of course, the T20I outfit.

Apart from that, it is also imperative that India realizes that Jemimah, despite all the crests and troughs in her career, is only 20 years of age – someone who needs to be given more time. And for a player of that age, it is perfectly natural to blow hot and cold, especially when handling the trials and tribulations of international cricket. The key, then, is to keep backing her.

After all, if the Indian women’s cricket team felt that she was good enough as a teenager and Kevin Pietersen currently feels that Jemimah is his favorite cricketer, there is something that she must be doing right.

The Northern Superchargers and the Yorkshire Diamonds have previously been able to extract every ounce of performance. Perhaps the Indian women’s cricket team can take a cue and help Jemimah become the world-beater she is perfectly capable of being.

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