Hetmyer: 'I am a natural stroke-maker'

Shimron Hetmyer, who scored a century against India in the first ODI on Sunday, says he looked up to Brian Lara when he was young.

When Shimron Hetmyer played the ‘Nataraja’ shot, it bore a strong resemblance to West Indian legend Brian Lara. When Hetmyer danced down the track to the spinners, wearing his maroon Panama hat, it was a throwback to the days of Lara’s teammate, Keith Arthurton.

“I’m more a Lara fan than Arthurton. Lara was the one I looked up to when I was young. A lot of people have mentioned that I bat similar to Lara, but this style comes naturally to me. I’m a natural stroke-maker. When it comes off, it feels good,” Hetmyer told select media outlets here on Tuesday.

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Hetmyer has had the chance to meet Lara and a few other West Indian stalwarts. “I’ve met great players like Lance Gibbs, Sir Viv Richards, Lara and Carl Hooper. They’re great fun to talk to, and it is good to know that they back you," he said.

Hetmyer’s attacking century in the first ODI against India on Sunday received big praise from India international Harbhajan Singh. The off-spinner suggested on social media that Hetmyer could be the next million-dollar baby of IPL 2019.

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“It feels good to know that one of India’s greatest spinners rates me highly. It is a dream of mine to play in the IPL. But for now, my focus is on representing the West Indies the best I can. If rewards come down the road, then so be it," the 21-year-old said.

On the recent trend of West Indian cricketers choosing lucrative Twenty20 franchise deals over international duty, Hetmyer said, "All young cricketers back home aspire to play in the IPL. But first and foremost, the priority would be to represent the West Indies, because that is the highest level you can reach as a cricketer,” the southpaw explained.

Hetmyer has fond memories of leading the West Indies to the 2016 ICC Under-19 World Cup title, a milestone that helped him gain a berth in the senior team. “I had been playing junior cricket with guys like Keemo Paul and Alzarri Joseph for quite a while, so it was especially sweet when we came together and won the Under-19 World Cup. Moving from junior to senior cricket was not too tough, because I’ve played against most of the West Indies internationals in Caribbean regional tournaments. I didn’t have to change my game much,” Hetmyer said.