Rising West Indies star Shimron Hetmyer is hoping Chris Gayle changes his mind about international retirement - just so he can keep learning from his hero. Since announcing the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup will be his swansong, the 39-year old Universe Boss has been playing like he’s on a different planet. He unleashed a world record 39 sixes in the recent one-day series with England and has scored 424 ODI runs, at an average of 106, since making his decision public.
Couple with that his brutal run-scoring in the recent Indian Premier League - 490 runs in 13 matches with Kings XI - and you can see why a player never short in confidence is ready to swagger on the big stage. Hetmyer - who scored the fastest century by a West Indian against England earlier this year, reaching three figures in just 82 balls in Bridgetown - is a big hitter from the same mould.
You could almost read his mind as he paced around the Trent Bridge boundary, a ground that has seen some high scores in recent years, ahead of Friday’s tournament opener against Pakistan. “I’ve learned so much just being around Chris,” said Hetmyer, who captained the West Indies to victory in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup three years ago.
“I watched him when I was young, playing on TV and he was one of my idols and he’s still my idol right now.
“I just want to learn as much as possible from him as he comes to the end of his career, he’s one of the greatest cricketers to play for the West Indies.
“It’s sad to see him go, he will be dearly missed. He is someone you can always lean on in different situations and pick his brain.
“I think he is probably in the best form of his life, coming round to the end of his career. We are wonder why he is actually retiring but it’s down to how he feels. I’d love him to continue, it would be fantastic for world cricket.”
Hetmyer played for Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gayle’s former team, in the recent Indian Premier League season but struggled for runs in all but one of his five appearances.
“It was my first year and it was great to play against the best players in world cricket and learn from a leader and captain like Virat,” he added.
“I’m trying to put all those lessons into this tournament now. This is my lifelong dream, playing in the World Cup but I can’t let the occasion get to him.”