Learning the art of playing a perfect pull shot from the peerless Ricky Ponting is a dream that Shimron Hetmyer is living during his stint with the Delhi Capitals. The explosive middle-order batsman showed glimpses of his destructive self during his 24-ball-45 knock against Rajasthan Royals. The first of his five sixes was a pull shot off Andrew Tye, executed to perfection.
"It's been fun to be around Ricky. A very good guy. He is right now working on my pull shot. He has observed that in last few games, people have been bowling short to me. So far he is working on my pulling and he has done one hell of a job with me," Hetmyer sounded like a disciple in awe of his mentor while talking about the Capitals head coach.
"He is teaching me the art of being a better finisher and I am getting there gradually."
Hetmyer is being sent to bat at number 5 or 6 depending on match situations and by his own admission, that's an aspect he is still coming to terms with each and every match. "The role of a floater is not something that I was accustomed to really. I am still working towards getting better with each and every game. What I try to do now is to ensure that every game, I have to hit a six. At least, one six. Working towards that at moment," Hetmyer, a former U-19 World Cup winning captain said, aware that he hasn't hit too many big shots in 72 T20 games, he has played.
Hetmyer, is a much better player of spinners among his Caribbean contemporaries, something he attributes to growing up in Guyana, which back in the day used to be one place that assisted slow bowlers. "It could be, yes I agree," the 23-year-old said, adding, "The pitches in Guyana are pretty similar to what we get here and in the Indian sub continent with regards to spinners. I had no choice but to adjust to it and get better."
"Playing spinners from an early age helped me get better and then coming to international cricket, it helped that I was able to rotate strike if the sixes are not coming," he explained.
He is a couple of months short of his 24th birthday and has already played 86 international games across three formats (16 Tests, 45 ODIs, 25 T20Is). When he looks back, he feels surprised at the speed at which his transition has happened. "Probably, I moved a bit faster (transition) than I expected to be honest. I didn't expect to be where I am at the age of 23 actually but I thank God everyday and all the people, my support system who have helped me to reach where I am today."
"There has been ups and downs but ups mostly. I am working at getting better and finishing more games for my team or at least get them to winning positions," the soft-spoken Hetmyer said.
A junior World Cup in his bag as a captain, does West Indies captaincy cross his mind? "I try not to think about West Indies captaincy that much. But if I am honest, it will always be at the back of my mind somewhere. Everyday, I wake up, I only think about cricket and get better at my game," he said.
Delhi Capitals' core is pretty young with 23-year-olds Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant, 25-year-old skipper Shreyas Iyer, pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada who is also of same age and opener Prithvi Shaw, weeks short of his 21st birthday. Having peers around helps when one needs to stay put in a bio-bubble, which is not the case for fun-loving blokes in their early 20s.
"It's been pretty tough personally. I am someone who likes to go shopping and stuff. Being locked up and not being able to go out see this sights has been a little bit tough for me.
"It's been better, having good friends around, having a young team also helped me a little bit more free. Us being basically the same age group, it helps a lot to have all those guys around."
(Image Courtesy: BCCI)