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Dripping With Caribbean Flair, Shimron Hetmyer Provides Glimpse of Mercurial Ability

At 21, Hetmyer has all the time in the world to carve his name into Windies folklore. He has the talent, all that is needed now is some consistency across formats. Whether or not he can manage that, only time will tell.

Ashish Pant |Cricketnext |October 23, 2018, 8:34 AM IST
Dripping With Caribbean Flair, Shimron Hetmyer Provides Glimpse of Mercurial Ability

For the 36,000-odd people present at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, in Guwahati and the thousands watching on their television sets on Sunday, Shimron Hetmyer's 78-ball 106 during the first One-Day International between India and the Windies might have come as some sort of a surprise. Not many can blame them after all considering how out of sync Hetmyer looked in the recently concluded two Test-series, managing just 50 runs across four innings at an average of just 12.50.

However, come the first ODI and the 21-year-old strode out to the middle a totally different batsman as he went about constructing his innings with the audaciousness and authority that has often been associated with the Windies players from a bygone era. There was that Caribbean flair on display in his strokeplay as he took apart fast bowlers and spinners alike carting them to all corners of the ground with a minimum of nonchalance reaching his century off just 74 deliveries, his innings studded with six fours and as many sixes.

It was a far cry from the Hetmyer that one saw in the Test series where he was outfoxed by Kuldeep Yadav in three of the four innings often failing to read the turning ball. The coloured clothing, the white ball and the fact that there was no Kuldeep in the opposition XI brought out a totally different batsman who was confident and assured of his abilities.

The Indian pacers not wanting to bowl the fuller length on a placid surface went with the short-ball ploy only to be taken to the cleaners by the left-hander. His horizontal bat shots were a treat to watch, his fast hands coming into play more than once while his timing remained impeccable all through. Make no mistake, it was not all slam-bang from the youngster. Coming in at 86/3 which soon became 114/4, Hetmyer weathered the storm early on picking up the ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking while also taking the odd calculated risks.

Shimron Hetmyer 2

Hetmyer scored 65 of his 106 runs on the on-side often clearing his front leg to the medium pacers and opting for the slog sweep against the spinners as he raced to his half-century off just 41 deliveries. The shot-making only got better after that with his next 50 runs taking just 33 deliveries. He got to his third ODI century with probably the shot of the Windies innings, a front-foot slam off Mohammed Shami that soared over Rishabh Pant's head at long off to cap off one of the best hundreds recorded by a Caribbean batsman in recent times. It was one of those hits that lingers on in the minds of a viewer long after the match is done and the standing ovation that followed was richly deserved.

But, was this Hetmyer innings a one-off when everything just seems to fall in place or is the swashbuckling southpaw indeed the future of Windies cricket?

Those that have seen the young lad in his hometown of Berbice, in Guyana, Hetmyer's latest onslaught comes as no surprise. He has been primed to play the sport at the highest level ever since being spotted at the Young Warriors Cricket Club in Guyana at a tender age of 11 with his big-hitting prowess making waves far and wide. His ODI statistics vouch for his abilities with the 21-year-old having already scored three centuries and a fifty in just 13 matches with a strike-rate reading 102.09 and an average of 45.

However, it was not all smooth sailing in Hetmyer's journey as a professional cricketer. He made his first-class debut for Guyana at the age of 18 where he could only manage scores of a 0 & 4 in the Regional Four Day Competition. He was drafted in the Windies Under-19 side for the 2014 World Cup but with three ducks in five matches, there were voices starting to gain ground whether he had it in him to make it to the highest level.

But, destiny had other plans for the youngster and he got another opportunity to play at the 2016 Under-19 World in Bangladesh where he led the Windies unit to victory defeating India in the finals by five wickets.

Shimron Hetmyer  1

It all suddenly started to fall in place for Hetmyer with runs flowing in the domestic 50 & 20-over competitions as well as first-class cricket. He was picked up by Guyana Amazon Warriors for the 2016 Caribbean Premier League but it was not until the 2018 edition that he gained consciousness in the minds of people.

He struck a 45-ball 79 in the very first game this year against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots leading his side to a six-wicket win. The moment he really had people stand up and notice him though was during Guyana's fourth game of the tournament when Hetmyer slammed a belligerent 49-ball 100 against Jamaica Tallawahs in Lauderhill, becoming the youngest centurion in the competition. He finished CPL 2018 as the third-highest scorer amassing 457 runs across 11 matches with two half-centuries and a ton. More importantly, he struck at 148.14 throughout further making a name as a solid power hitter.

Hetmyer's big-hitting abilities have not gone unnoticed with both current and former cricketers. Ian Bishop was the amongst the first few to call him the future of Windies cricket while former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh expected the swashbuckling left-hander to go for a fair few at the 2019 IPL auctions.

Jason Holder, the Windies captain, was also elated with the way Hetmyer regained his form after a patchy Test series.

"It was good to see him get back to form," captain Jason Holder said after the match. "He had a lean patch in the Test series and pretty innocuous dismissals as well, so it's good to see him get a score on the board. He has been doing pretty well in the limited-overs format for us, so it's good to see him put up his hand and score a hundred today."

At 21, Hetmyer has all the time in the world to carve his name into Windies folklore. He has the talent, all that is needed now is some consistency across formats. Whether or not he can manage that, only time will tell.

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