Jemimah Rodrigues has been one of the batting mainstays for the Indian women’s cricket team ever since she made her international debut in 2018. The 19-year-old right-hander has performed consistently over the past two years and has impressed one and all with her sound technique and strokeplay.

In a chat with former India cricketer Deep Dasgupta and journalist Chetan Narula on HotSpot: The Cricket Podcast, Rodrigues shared her thoughts on the importance of a Women’s Indian Premier League, the cancellation of the England tour, her experience of playing in the T20 Super League, and her need for balance in life.

Also read: For no good reason, Ganguly-led BCCI holds women’s cricket back once again

Here are excerpts:

On Women’s IPL:

There were plans for a women’s IPL this year. Not a full-fledged one like the men’s, but we have enough players for 4-5 teams. So there were plans going on for this year, but because of the lockdown, all of that has changed. We are excited that finally, we are getting some cricket (later in the UAE) and even we will have the women’s IPL. It will be a small tournament but it will mean so much to all of us.

WIPL will help us a lot, even if you see the men’s IPL. There are so many players like Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya who have come up and we have found talent in the IPL. Some talent we didn’t even know we had and we got them through IPL and now they are the mainstay of India. I think it is the same that will happen for women’s cricket in India thanks to the women’s IPL.

Also read – Women’s T20 Challenge during IPL: A look at questions raised by Ganguly’s announcement of UAE event

On clash with Women’s BBL:

Honestly, it will make some difference because the players who have signed up for the WBBL already, they will probably not make it for the WIPL. So it will be different but looking at the positive side of it, many more players will get an opportunity to play on the big stage. So that is an opportunity for the younger people to rise up, players who haven’t yet had the chance and get this experience, and benefit from it. Looking from that view, we are excited and looking forward to playing in the UAE.

On England tour cancellation and 2021 ODI World Cup postponed to 2022:

Obviously (it’s) sad because we have not played cricket for so long. We were very excited when we were told about the England tour, but then it didn’t happen for obvious reasons. It got cancelled to protect our players. Yes, we were sad because nobody wants cancellations and postponements, but the ICC and boards have taken this decision with a lot of thought.

So whether the postponement of series or the World Cup, whatever has been done is considering the betterment of women’s cricket. If we look at it, we have more time to practice now as a team (for the World Cup), which we lost during this year due to lockdown. We will practice more and play series and get that momentum back as a team that we have lost in the past few months.

Were you informed about the England tour happening or not happening?

We were told that it was supposed to happen. We had a Zoom call with all players and coaches and were told that this series is lined up and need to be mentally prepared and get back in touch with the sport. But then I read it in a newspaper report that the series was cancelled/postponed, and nothing was told to us directly. Honestly, we were expecting the tour to happen. They had delayed it a bit; it was supposed to happen earlier (in June), but they were taking precautions and arranging charter flights. So we did think it was going to happen, but then, it didn’t.

On power-hitting and approaching a T20 innings:

For someone like me, I am not a power hitter. I am more of someone who will look for gaps. So that is the kind of game I like to play. Like Virat Kohli, I try to get those boundaries in between, but I prefer to keep taking the singles and doubles. In women’s cricket, there are four fielders outside the 23 yards. So I look to pick those gaps and pierce the field using my skill and brains.

In women’s cricket, it is not always about hitting sixes and boundaries, it is also about smartly picking the gaps and maintaining the strike rate. You can even run doubles, it is the same as hitting boundaries. So depending on the situation, if my team wants me to attack, I will do it from ball one. But I am also happy to drop anchor.

But the women’s game has changed so much. Power hitting is a crucial aspect of the game now. Batters cannot stick to one thing and we have to keep adapting. I have been working on this aspect as well. If you see, I am not very strong naturally, so I use the element of timing and my bat swing for my power hitting. I have been working on it with my father in the nets and over time I have seen an improvement in my strike rate. This is a crucial aspect now, and the batters need to keep doing it.

On playing England’s Super League:

It was one of the very good experiences, not just because I scored a lot of runs. It was a whole different experience; I travelled to the UK alone. I played with a whole new team. I am someone who likes having people around me. But they were a new bunch of people and I was a stranger. They were very sweet but I couldn’t gel up well. I am a people person and gel up well most of the times, but for some reason, I couldn’t do it there.

I sometimes used to feel alone and cry at night. There were people around me but I felt alone. It was completely different from the Indian team set up. It helped me become stronger and grow as a person. You had no one to spoon-feed you.

In India coaches come and tell you things, but there I had to figure out stuff on my own in the net sessions. I had to do everything on my own, from net sessions to doing my laundry and cutting vegetables. I became an expert in washing dishes. I wanted to finish and come home soon. But I was in good touch and batting really well, especially after the first few matches. And Smriti Mandhan gave me some good advice, and I carried on from there.

On handling pressure and social media scrutiny:

I switch off my Instagram and Twitter whenever am playing. Sometimes you read things and it gets stuck in your head. I actually spoke to Virat Kohli in New Zealand about it. He said not to do it because he told me his experience… that he wanted to prove to one guy (on social media) who lived thousands of miles away and doesn’t even know what he is doing. So that advice made a lot of difference.

I am not someone who can read stuff and be normal. I am emotional, so I avoid how much I can. I do get criticism, but you can either get bitter about it or be positive about it and try to improve. I do like to have a balance between cricket and my personal life. Cricket doesn’t take up my whole time, because life is more than that. So it is about me finding that balance. So I concentrate on music and take time off cricket, as taking a break helps me switch off and focus on the game when I turn on.

Watch the interview here: