In five matches so far, the power-hitter has already racked up 197 runs at a blazing strike rate of 177.48. And he knows no stopping.
See ball, hit ball (really hard). Lather, rinse, repeat. Shimron Hetmyer\"s mantra in IPL 2022 has been fairly simple - to bat his heart out and have plenty of fun in the process - all while trying to win games for his team from any given situation. It doesn\"t matter who the opponent is, or what plan the bowlers are bowling to - his approach and preparation remain the same, and his execution only gets better. The pink hairdo, that infectious smile, the flamboyance in his strokeplay, and the method in his madness - there’s something so fascinating about watching the ‘Hetman’ bat this season.
"One of my strengths is really just to relax and have fun, you know."
Well, he surely makes batting look fun. And effortless. Doesn’t he?
In five matches so far, Shimron has already racked up 197 runs at a blazing strike rate of 177.48. 138 of those runs have come in boundaries, including 15 sixes (and counting!) - the most he has hit in a single IPL season. It almost looks like he’s hitting them for fun and could do it in his sleep. The clarity of his role in the Royals’ batting order, the brute force with which he attacks bowlers, the intent to go big from the first ball and the versatility in his shot-making have made him one of the most destructive batters this year. In Shimron, the Royals seem to have found a finisher, someone who can completely turn the tide in a matter of minutes. But in him, they\"ve also found a consolidator, someone who can patiently see out tricky passages of play when the team is in trouble, even if it means curbing his attacking instincts, before going big again.
A fine example of Shimron’s ability to play this dual role was on display against LSG, where he walked in to bat in the 10th over. Lucknow’s bowlers had their tails up after picking four early wickets, and it was down to the southpaw to bring some stability to the innings. In his first 10 balls, he took cautious ones and twos alongside Ravi Ashwin and hit just one six, as the Royals rebuilt the innings. 10 of the total 36 deliveries he faced were dot balls, a measure of how he paced his innings and accelerated later on. In what was a well-planned move, Shimron took zero risks against the spinners and then went ballistic against the fast bowlers, including his West Indian teammate Jason Holder.
“I love playing against Holder, I know what he does, and he knows what I do. It\"s nice to play against a fellow teammate,” he said after his knock.
By the time the innings ended, Shimron had his first fifty of the season, an unbeaten 59, and the Royals had a competitive total on the board, which helped our bowlers defend it successfully.
“It\"s really about just giving yourself the opportunity to do well and I try as much as possible to give myself that chance. I just take it one game at a time, trying to do the same thing over and over.”
Thanks to Shimron’s brutal hitting at the death, the Royals are currently the team with the best strike rate and net run rate in the final five overs this season. His late flourish has allowed the team to finish on a high, and carry that momentum going into the second innings. Not only has he gone after the pacers towards the end, but he has also struck the most sixes by any batter in the final phase of the innings. He also features in the list of the top five batters to have scored the most runs against quicks this season.
It is this simple, focused approach to the game that has brought him success right from his Under-19 days. Only five matches into his first-class career, Shimron was handed the U19 captaincy after the coaches said they liked ‘the way he went about it on the field’. In 2015-16, he led the West Indies to their first-ever Under-19 World Cup title in Bangladesh, scoring 158 runs in six innings with two crucial half-centuries in the knockout stages. A year later, he was already rubbing shoulders with international players, having debuted in all three formats within a span of nine months.
At just 22 years of age, he became the youngest batter to score a century in the Caribbean Premier League (2018). Incidentally, that hundred came at number three, the same position at which he scored his maiden ODI century, in only the third match of his career. The same year, he was named as one of the five breakout stars in Men’s Cricket by the ICC - he had smashed 30 sixes in 18 ODI innings that year, earning the reputation of the next big six-hitter from the Caribbean.
His exploits in the CPL had far-reaching effects across the cricketing world, including on the other side of the globe - in India. By 2019, he had gotten his first taste of the IPL. In just a couple of full seasons, Shimron displayed his T20 batting prowess with his clean striking and exquisite timing, topped with the typical West Indian flair that made for the perfect visual delight. He shone at IPL 2021 in the No.5 position, a role that’s been handed to him at the Royals as well - and he’s looked made to order for it. The flexibility of switching between batting positions and his ability to adapt quickly to different roles has made him a potent weapon in any batting line-up.
This season, the 25-year-old seems to have taken his game to another level with the Royals. He is timing the ball better than ever - it is evident in the array of shots he offers in each game, covering all parts of the ground and leaving the bowlers scratching their heads.
But what about Hettie the guy? Whether he’s just walking around in the bubble or towards the team bus on his way to the ground, you’ll always see him carrying his favourite pair of speakers and headphones, with a big smile on his face and impromptu poses for the camera. He appears more relaxed, looks content with his batting and doesn’t wear a frown, no matter what the situation. His peppy personality has a calming yet entertaining effect on his teammates, who enjoy goofing around with him.
He enjoys spending time with Yuzvendra Chahal, whom he refers to as his ‘brother’. At the Royals, the kind of lively and comfortable atmosphere that he finds himself in has literally brought him out of his hotel room more often than in previous years, whether by Yuzi’s knock on his door or otherwise. He carries this positive, happy energy on the field, and it shows.
“This is the first season that I’ve actually been out of my room as much because it’s really comfortable here and I know a lot of people around. So, you’ll probably see me out here a lot more than before,” he said, talking about his experience with the franchise so far, on the first episode of The Royals Podcast.
In a fast-paced tournament like the IPL, there’s only so much time each player gets to grab eyeballs. With an explosive start to the season, Shimron has wasted no time in announcing his arrival in the Royals camp. It doesn’t matter how many deliveries he gets to face, or when he comes out to bat. With scores of 32 (13), 35 (14), 42 (31), 59* (36) and 29 (17) - we’ve been treated to some swashbuckling batting from Hettie so far. And there’s a strong sense that these are just glimpses of what’s in store. The best is probably yet to come. 🤞