It takes time for a cricketer to establish himself in the huge world of the game. There are those rare names who are lucky to make their presence felt in the sport very early in their careers. The name Shimron Hetmyer soon became familiar in the cricketing fraternity but not for the very right reasons. During the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh, a controversial Mankad allowed the West Indies side to advance in the tournament. A 19-year-old Hetmyer was the captain of the side, who thoroughly supported the act done by his teammate.
“I would say yes, cricket is a game of uncertainties. We’ve seen it happen in cricket before. It’s not a big deal for us. It’s probably not in the spirit of the game, but we’re happy to have won,” Hetmyer said after the win. However, that incident was soon forgotten when Hetymer-led West Indies eventually were crowned the champions, who beat favourites Team India by five wickets. Hetmyer scored 158 runs in six games in that competition, including successive half-centuries in the quarter-final and semi-final. It was his second Under-19 World Cup after he had participated in the 2014 edition that took place in the UAE.
He was then exposed to playing among the big stars of the game when he was bought by Guyana Amazon Warriors ahead of the 2016 Caribbean Premier League. Although he got just a game in the entire edition, he still would have had a great learning experience by sharing the dressing room with the likes of Chris Lynn, Martin Guptill, Dwayne Smith and Adam Zampa among the other international cricketers.
A 20-year-old Hetymer received a maiden Test call for the home series against Pakistan. He was sent for the Under-19 World Cup just four games after he had made his First-Class debut for Guyana. With not much participation in the domestic circuit, Hetymer played his first Test in Kingston. He was given the crucial position in No. 3, the spot that is usually reserved for the side’s best batsman. Since the West Indies side was undergoing a transformation, Hetymer was made to bat at No. 3 on trial and error basis. In no time, he was in the limelight as he was being considered as a future star in the making. His stroke-play was something that attracted everyone’s attention towards him.
He boosted the tradition aggression and fearless approach to the game like any other Trinidadian. However, that outlook did not help him in the basis of the runs flow. In the three Tests against Pakistan, he had a high score of 25 and accumulated 96 runs in six innings. An unimpressive maiden series meant he had to sit out of the side for the next two series.
When Hetymer was recalled in the side ahead of the New Zealand series, he had to make alterations to his game, in order to repeat the same mistakes he committed against Pakistan earlier this year. The buoyant left-hander’s dismissals in that series were majorly because of lack of patience and irresponsible choice of shots. Being from the Caribbean part of the world, the attacking-way is probably his only instinct when he gets on the field. For any other player, that would have left him with an option of changing his game. However, Hetymer is class apart. At such a young age, showing immense belief in his original style of play is commendable.
“I will try to approach it not necessarily the same way, but I’m not trying to change how I approach my game because some people went into Test cricket one way and they changed; I probably need to tighten up on some stuff,” Hetymer said before the New Zealand series.
Hetymer, unfortunately, started off the series with a clumsy dismissal. Once again, he tried to get going as soon as he came to the crease. Neil Wagner’s short balls, to begin with, troubled him in the beginning of the innings. He managed three boundaries before Wagner’s short-pictched bouncer did the trick. The almost 21-year-old Hetymer seemed like he was confused between leaving the ball of defending it and in an attempt, he edged to Tom Latham in the slip cordon.
West Indies, as expected, underwent a collapse as they were bundled out for 134 in the first innings. As Hetymer had earlier said to hang on with the team as it is a new bunch of guys and they will take time to click as a unit. “Hang in there with us; it is a new and young bunch of guys and we are working very hard to make sure that the West Indies get back on top of world,” Heytmer, who went on to register his maiden Test fifty in the second innings, had said.
After New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme entertained the Basin Reserve crowd and viewers around on the television with the fastest maiden Test century, gears switched in the favour of the West Indians when he took the crease at 72 for 1. He once again displayed fearless array of thrilling strokes. He was neither scared of the spinner or pacers as he lofted them twice down the ground for two sixes. When he joined Kraig Braithwate in the middle, the latter was on 27. Mid-way in their partnership, Hetymer blew past his partner and won the race to reach the half-century.
Hetymer’s 89-ball 66 was inclusive of those two sixes and eight boundaries and the exciting knock came to an end was caught by the extra-cover fielder off a top-edged pull. His maiden test fifty has had glimpses of him becoming one of the best in the side. As he will make his way into Test cricket ahead, he will get better at architecting his innings. With time, he is sure to learn to stick to his natural style of play but will work on minimizing the risk on every ball. He will better his judgement in his shot selection and get his defense, the major strength of a Test player, sturdier.