Maybe Fletcher will get them some runs, or maybe he won’t. Can he be relied upon? Will Lewis play and if so, will he fire with the same power he did against the Proteas? Maybe Pollard will return into the squad and straight away begin pounding sixes. Or, maybe he’ll just sit out tending to that niggle to get fully fit. Who knows Gayle may make some runs for a change. Maybe none of them will. Permutations and combination, and ‘what-might’ are familiar scrumptious offerings when the West Indies are around. Though, one thing is sure, having just cooled off with a sensational 61 off just 36, Shimron Hetmyer, would be keen to get another score - won’t you?
Decades ago, when Sir Gavaskar batted, minus a helmet and with total devotion of putting bowlers to the edge, it was seen as a sign of tremendous self-belief and the power of conviction. Not arrogance, not an inadequacy at failing to understand the nuances of the game.
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Generations hence, today when a fan sees you dance down the track minus any headgear on, often against roaring fast bowlers- think Starc, don’t forget Hazlewood- it signals a different thing altogether. It’s a statement of intent.
It alludes to the point that a young generation of bold and confident West Indians isn’t unafraid to express itself, more so in a format one is amid towering figures of the game. There wasn’t a single occasion against the Proteas where it seemed you didn’t have the shots or lacked confidence. The only thing that was lacking, if ever, was the ability to convert a start into a score of substance.
A typical Shimron Hetmyer knock featuring the usage of the depth of the crease, exploring the square on and firing over the corridor between the deep mid-wicket and long on, your treasured regions. That’s all that one craved for.
An inning of the likes one saw in 2019 in India when against Sundar, Chahar, Jadeja and Bhuvaneswar-led attack you took just 41 deliveries to hammer 56. The top score in a line-up made of Lewis, Pollard and Simmons, which happened to be your maiden T20I fifty. And now as you took just 6 overs to reach your second fifty, the effort beckons not just appreciation but some contemplation.
Firstly, it isn’t that the runs intentionally distance themselves from you. One would observe, you throw away a start and lose out on patience, which well doesn’t happen to be the strongest presence in the West Indian DNA. So could that change? Why shouldn’t that change? If Hope can do it, Chase can demonstrate it, Kraigg Brathwaite can base an entire career on it, why can’t you?
And second, the 61 against Australia. No minnows with the ball, was indication of your ability against a top-line attack comprising spin and pace. An innings unmatched in zest for scoring and the desire to put the bowlers to the sword that was beautifully reminiscent of arguably among the most under-appreciated of all fifties hit by a West Indian in a World Cup.
So Shimron Hetmyer, do you recall your 54 off 45 against New Zealand two years back in the days when you stuck to the crease when Windies lost two of their rising young stars in Hope and Pooran?
All eyes were lit when the third of a trinity of most promising and flourishing West Indian batsman walked out to the middle in a must-win encounter at Manchester and you immediately began toying with Boult, Henry and Ferguson.
To this day, we remember and we must! Carlos Brathwaite’s breathtakingly beautiful century, the only scored by any West Indian in that World Cup, but what might have become of the scoreboard if you and Gayle won’t have engaged in innings-repair work?
The ability is never the question when it concerns Shimron Hetmyer- hitter of flat as also long sixes, transformer of confident spinners into exhausted men engaged in drudgery. The question is consistency.
As the third T20 arrives, West Indies’ finest chance to dent a massive blow to Australia by winning the series if they manage to secure a win, a key question will be - how much and how beautifully will Shimron Hetmyer score?
The answer none can tell. It all starts and ends with you. It all rests with the flight of fancy you proved two nights ago wasn’t that fanciful after all. The towering sixes over long on. The full flow of the bat. The fearless dancing down the track to bowlers. Pulling the one bowled short of length to a front foot pull-stroke, in a Ponting-esque manner. Forget not, that to express yourself and do so confidently is your only responsibility. Rest will take care of itself.
Can we expect another demonstration of grit just like the one seen in the 2nd T20I, which raised an important milestone after having missed out in eleven back-to-back games?
As said, it all rests with you Shimron Hetmyer. The team believes in you, and so must you.
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