When the extended squad for the ongoing series against New Zealand and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup was announced in January, Jemimah Rodrigues did not make the cut. Addressing a virtual press conference after the announcement of the squad, India head coach Ramesh Powar stated that Rodrigues, spinner Punam Raut and all-rounder Shikha Pandey were left out of the assignments simply because they did not perform.

The 21-year-old who made her debut in 2018 found herself having a topsy turvy 2021 as she was in and out of the side. Although Rodrigues had a memorable outing at the Hundred and the Women’s Big Bash League, she struggled to hit the double-figure mark during the last year in the international assignments she was a part of.

“Before the Hundred and the WBBL, I wasn’t having a good patch. As a person, it does affect me a lot, because I want to do well every time I am on the field. I was at a very low phase at that time. Low on confidence, didn’t have a lot of self-esteem,” Rodrigues said in an interview with Hindustan Times.

Jemimah, who has played 21 ODIs and 50 T20Is, scoring 394 and 1055 runs, can currently be spotted playing hockey at a local rink tournament in Mumbai during her time away from cricket. She opened up about what helped her cope from the year she had, the World Cup snub and the philosophy that helped her cope.

“I cried a lot - not in front of everyone - but in the room. I thought it was over, it’s the end of the world for me and things are not going to work out. But during that time in England, I read one of Virat Kohli’s interviews of 2014 (England) series.”

“He said he didn’t feel like waking up, felt very low on confidence, I could relate so much. So, I was like, ‘OK, if a batter like Kohli can feel that way, I can too. There’s nothing wrong in feeling this way.’ And he said this one thing that - I think that was something that changed for me - he didn’t go out there to prove anything to anyone.”

During The Hundred, she told herself to just go out there and enjoy herself without worrying about the criticism. And things worked out pretty well. She scored a match-winning 92* off 43 balls for her team Northern Superchargers against Welsh Fire and got her form back.

The conversation around prioritising the mental health of athletes has gained a lot of traction in and outside the sporting circles, especially after the pandemic. However, the importance of taking care of physical as well as mental well-being for athletes, in order to better cope with the pressures and disappointments within sport itself has also been highlighted more in recent years.

Talking about how she coped after the year she had, the Melbourne Renegades opener said, “At times, I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself: that I have to show that this is the kind of batter I am. But the greatest learning from this time is that whatever happens, I never want to lose that joy of playing cricket.”

Read the full interview in the Hindustan Times HERE