Jemimah Rodrigues says the banter has already started as she prepares to take on her former Renegades teammates in Saturday’s Melbourne Derby.
The rising India star swapped Melbourne clubs this season and has quickly made herself at home within the Stars group, even entertaining them with her guitar during their bus trip along the Western Highway to Ballarat on Thursday.
The bubbly 22-year-old has won plenty of fans around the world since making her debut for India in February 2018, with the right-hander already racking up 87 international caps.
She is one of two prodigious young overseas talents on the Stars’ roster this season, alongside 18-year-old England allrounder Alice Capsey.
Having enjoyed her past visits to Melbourne with the India squad, Rodrigues was only too happy to join the city’s other club after being told the Renegades were seeking an overseas bowling option in her place for WBBL|08.
“I think it will be a fun battle,” Rodrigues told cricket.com.au of the upcoming Derby. “I’m definitely looking forward to it, I’ve already got a little bit of flack … it’ll be pretty cool.
“The Renegades were looking for a bowler, so that was a conversation we had … I would have loved to continue with the Renegades, but I do respect the team and the decisions they made … so that’s why I joined the Stars, I love Melbourne.
“The girls have made it easy for me to gel with them.
“I just knew Lauren Winfield-Hill because I’ve played with her before, but everyone has been so nice, so welcoming, and it’s just so much easier for me to gel up with them.
“As an overseas player, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
Rodrigues was ruled out of the majority of The Hundred and India’s subsequent limited-overs tour of England in September after injuring her hand playing against Barbados during the Commonwealth Games.
Initially she had hoped to push on and continue playing but was ultimately forced to return home to undergo rehabilitation in Bengaluru.
“We took a scan the next day, the doctor said it was a bone bruise and I could still play with it, but I was in a lot of pain,” Rodrigues said.
“So I played the (Commonwealth Games) semis with a lot of painkillers, played the final, played two games of The Hundred but it would swell up every time after the game the next day and get very sore.
“We took another scan and we got the news it was a fracture.”
Rodrigues returned refreshed to score a 53-ball 76 against Sri Lanka in India’s opening Asia T20 Cup game, crediting the six-week break for her impressive return.
She went on to finish as the tournament’s leading run scorer, scoring 217 runs at a strike rate of 135.62 as India took out the title.
Her break likely also proved a lucky one for the Stars, given two India players who spent extended periods in England this northern summer, playing in the Commonwealth Games, The Hundred and then India’s series against England back-to-back, ultimately pulled out of WBBL|08.
No Star has been more enthused by Rodrigues’ cross-town move than allrounder – and now self-appointed ‘best friend’ – Tess Flintoff.
“We were actually chatting last year, me and a couple of the girls, about which international we’d want on our team,” Flintoff said.
“And I thought Jemi’s a perfect person to have on your team.
“I thought there was no way we’d be getting her from the Renegades, but we managed it, and I couldn’t have been more excited.
“She’s lived up to my expectations and more. She’s been awesome around the group.”
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