Shimron Hetmyer – Blending Incredible Power with Clarity of Thought

Via: IPL

In Bangladesh, the village of Vakurta, situated on the outskirts of Dhaka, is renowned for artisans who end up producing some of the finest jewellery in the country. Not far away from the village, at Fatullah, West Indies and Pakistan played a quarterfinal match during the Under-19 World Cup in 2016. In that game, the West Indies seemed to have unearthed a jewel from Guyana in Shimron Odilon Hetmyer. The left-hand batter thumped the fifth ball he faced from Hayatullah down the ground for four. He then drove one through covers off the same bowler.

As a text commentator, this writer’s eyes zoomed in on Hetmyer’s unhurried swagger and self-belief. Here was a batter who had, until then, struggled to find his groove in the tournament. But in the crucial quarter-final game, he stamped his authority off just the fifth ball he faced.

Time flies. Around seven years later, in IPL 2023, Rajasthan Royals – who Hetmyer now represents in the most high-profile of domestic competition – were up against Gujarat Titans, the defending champions. The eighth ball Hetmyer faced, he cleared his front leg and hoicked Alzarri Joseph, one of the fastest bowlers in the tournament, over deep square leg for a six. The eyes were again fixed on Hetmyer’s bountiful skills. He had shown his cards early, that he would look to club one across the line, and one of the fastest bowlers going around was made to look helpless.

A Hetmyer Heist

That night, there was another facet of Hetmyer’s game that caught the eye – the ability to pace his innings and shift gears as and when needed. Until he cracked that mighty six, Hetmyer had made four off seven deliveries. He was ready to play second fiddle, with Sanju Samson, the Rajasthan skipper, going all guns blazing at the other end. Once Samson was dismissed by Noor Ahmed, Hetmyer hit top gear, clubbing Joseph, Rashid Khan and finally Noor. Rashid did trouble Hetmyer with the googly in the 18th over. Hetmyer, however, waited for the right ball to hit and won the game of cat and mouse by tonking one over long-on.

Just have a peek at Hetmyer’s record in this season’s IPL – an average of 183 and a strike-rate of 184.84. In the slog overs, his strike-rate jumps up to a whopping 210.8. Now, let’s break it down to every individual innings he has played in this IPL, in order to gauge the value that he brings to Rajasthan as a finisher – 22 (16), 36 (18), 39* (21), 30* (18) and 56* (26).

In the post-match chat with the broadcaster, Hetmyer shared his thoughts on his role as the finisher. “With the start we had while batting [Rajasthan were reduced to 4 for 2], it was very important to know how good a wicket this was,” he said.  “With the quality of bowling they had in the powerplay, we had to respect them. But we knew at this ground, on this wicket, chasing would be really nice with the power we have at the end.

“It always helps to practise with the mindset that you’re a couple of wickets down and you have to get, say, 100 runs in probably eight overs. You just try to program your mind that way, and so far it’s working.”

Clarity of thought allied to extraordinary hitting power. Hetmyer always had the required skills to burn brightly in the cricketing landscape. Even if we go as far back as the 2012-13 season, he had composed a quick-fire 105 off just 65 balls against Trinidad and Tobago in an Under-17 age-group tournament. In 2018, in a Test match played on a turning track in Bangladesh, he had smacked Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s all-round talisman, for two fours and a six through the on-side after facing just a couple of deliveries.

Rajasthan Look to Stretch their Lead Against Up-and-Down Lucknow

Because of the persistent tension between Cricket West Indies and the players from the region who participate in various lucrative T20 (and even T10) leagues, Hetmyer’s international career has been a stop-start affair. Despite that, with the passage of time, he has blended his undoubted potential with batting smarts to create an irresistible cocktail  – one that left Gujarat punch-drunk. 

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