NOTTINGHAM, England, CMC – Much of the spotlight is expected to fall on dashing left-hander Shimron Hetmyer when West Indies open their ICC World Cup campaign against Pakistan here today.
Despite only 22-year-old, Hetmyer has always set tongues wagging across the globe with his extravagant stroke-play which was good enough to earn him a lucrative contract in the Indian Premier League this year. However, Hetmyer says he is staying grounded amidst the bright lights of his first World Cup tournament and the weight of expectations.
“I’m really looking forward to this World Cup. It’s been a lifelong dream for me and it’s really nice being here. It’s a magnificent feeling,” Hetmyer said yesterday.
“I’m just trying not to think about it too much and not let the stage of the World Cup get to me.”
He averages 40 from 25 One-Day Internationals, with three of his four hundreds coming inside the last 12 months. What has amazed about Hetmyer is not so much his prolific scoring but rather, the manner in which he gets his runs.
A diminutive player, the Guyanese packs a punch, and often trades in fours and sixes once he gets going.
He has been widely viewed as the heir apparent to veteran talisman Chris Gayle, who just happens to be his mentor.
“I actually watched him when I was younger playing on television and that was actually one of my idols growing up and he’s still my idol right now,” he revealed.
“I just try to learn as much as I possibly can from him as he comes to the end of his career practically.” The 39-year-old Gayle has already indicated his desire to retire from ODIs following the World Cup, bringing the curtain down on a career that has yielded 289 matches and 10 151 runs.
Hetmyer said even in the twilight of his career, Gayle had remained the same character around the team.
“It’s been the same Chris we’ve all come to love, a very fun person who always cracks a joke in between,” Hetmyer said.
“He’s been a very good leader for me growing up, and being a batsman and looking up to him as one of the greatest players to play world cricket and to play for the West Indies.”
With the likes of Gayle, Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Shai Hope and captain Jason Holder, speculation has been rife about the size of the totals West Indies can post throughout the tournament.
However, Hetmyer said there was no such discussion ongoing inside the group.
“It’s not really that big of a thing for us. We’re just trying to have the right team spirit and have everyone know their role and whatever specific part of the game that they play,” he pointed out.
“It’s basically a team plan for us to go out and do our best and try to put a good total on the board every time.”