For someone who’s barely 24 and soon to turn 25, Shimron Hetmyer has courted both wide interest and criticism in a fairly young career. His critics lambast him for his uncanny knack of throwing away his wickets.
It’s true. Happens to the best of us. But for someone who’s been hitting runs at a strike rate of 106 in ODIs and 73 in Tests, it may be fair to say that Shimron Hetmyer’s driven by the rush of blood, which is well, the case with so many.
So many his age.
Of course, Pant operates at a different level of risk-taking versus rewards, still managing to throw away a good start but perhaps only after accumulating a few more runs than Hetmyer does.
Ditto for say Paul Stirling and Fakhar Zaman, truth be told.
But the thing with Hetmyer, rather his critics is, is that they’re not too keen on understanding a fact.
That for all that the Guyanese are doing- skying one too many, dashing a few boundaries here and there and upping the ante of run-rate nearly every time he’s at the crease, they’re missing the point that Hetmyer is peaking at the right time.
That the T20 World Cup is but a few yards away in a neighbourhood sense is known to all. But that one of West Indies’s most promising - and lest it is forgotten, brave- batters is going well over run a ball, as seen of late, augurs well for the defending champions.
What Shimron Hetmyer represents today is more than big hits and sixes whose true worth is the distance they travel; what he does represent, as a matter of fact, is a young bold generation of West Indians who like to rotate the strike, play the spinners, take them on and get onto the front foot.
For no great things was ever attained by merely remaining on the back foot unless of course it’s a rank turner and you simply can’t pick the ball anyway.
The Shimron Hetmyer that we are seeing of lately for the Delhi Capitals is unafraid to use his feet, convert the 1s into twos, and pick the gaps instead of simply relying on power to clear the ropes.
That’s precisely the Hetmyer one saw in the Second T20 versus the Australians at the Daren Sammy stadium at Gros Islet earlier this year.
After getting off to a slow start in the 5-match series, which the Windies aced against the visiting albeit depleted Aussies, Hetmyer was the man of the moment in the second game.
His 61 off 36 wasn’t just another half-century in the T20 format, a forum that’s unfurled a culture of attractive wham-bam West Indian hitting.
That 61 l, a knock against both Starc and Hazlewood, Agar and Zampa was peak Shimron Hetmyer.
Bold. Daring. Unafraid to express himself.
It’s one thing, it must be noted, to participate in a rollicking West Indian T20 line up, but something quite other to make a place for oneself in a unit that has names of the redoubtable aura of Gayle, Pollard, Pooran and Holder.
With time on his hands and that passion to go big, tomorrow belongs to Hetmyer.
But that’s only if he’s keen to work out his flaws. That being, unable to score big and convert starts into meaningful contributions, as seen in lean patches during the Proteas series earlier this season (57 runs, 3 matches) and the fixtures against the Kiwis (25 runs, 2 T20Is).
The new Shimron Hetmyer is the one we are all too familiar with. The bloke who, practically out of nowhere, revived the Windies inning against New Zealand with Gayle at the other end with even Hope departed cheaply. Circa 2019 men’s ODI World Cup.
That six off the front foot with the pull stroke against Lockie Ferguson that brought up the left hander’s fifty would have been Chanderpaul and Lara proud.
That effortless club over deep mid-wicket took Windies to 136 in just the second ball of the twenty-first over.
But that he soon after failed to read a slower one going for another big hoist proved to be his undoing. That’s precisely what Hetmyer may want to work on; to exerciser restraint before going bang-bang.
Who knows, it may just drive the devoted Caribbean fans to rally once again around their West Indies come to this T20 World Cup.
Meanwhile, here are some stats that warrant greater attention to Hetmyer, who’s been clearly getting useful runs in this IPL:
Starting 25th September onwards, his scores in this edition of the IPL are:
28 v Royals (strike rate 175) and Delhi won; 20 of those runs came through hits to the fence
4 v KKR and Delhi lost; 0 fours
15 off 8 v MI (strike rate 187) and Delhi won; 8 of those runs came through hits to the fence
28* off 18 (strike rate of 155) and Delhi won; 14 of these runs came through hits to the fence
29 off 22 (strike rate of 131.8) Delhi lost; 20 of these runs came through hits to the fence.
37 off 24 (strike rate of 154.1) Delhi lost; 18 of these runs came through hits to the fence.
Total runs from 6 innings combined are = 141. Runs through fours or sixes combined = 80!