IPL 2023: Finisher Hetmyer is batting like a dream – how far can he take this newfound consistency?
@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read
Shimron Hetmyer is arguably the best finisher in IPL 2023 right now, closing innings with a newfound spark, as well as the consistency that has long been missing from his game. How far can he take it?
When Shimron Hetmyer was run out against Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals needed another 13 in three balls. Hetmyer looked back at non-striker Dhruv Jurel and gave a thumbs-up – for Jurel, on his IPL debut, had turned his back on his senior, leading to an avoidable run out. Hetmyer’s gesture would have definitely given young Jurel a surge of confidence.
Jurel could not see Rajasthan through, but he backed Hetmyer’s 18-ball 36 with a 15-ball 32 to pump life into the chase and kept the match alive until the end. It was not the first all-guns-blazing late cameo from Hetmyer, and it was certainly not the last. After five innings at the IPL 2023, he averages 183 while striking at 184.85. His 15 sixes so far are already his second-best tally in an IPL season.
The five games have shown the best of Hetmyer – in the past, the good has been invariably followed by the not-so-good, but the consistency has been incredible this time. He has faced more than 20 balls just twice this season and never gone past 26 balls – and is yet among the top ten run-getters of the tournament, with comfortably the best strike rate among anyone with as many runs as him.
If the good run continues, he is on course to convert his fifth IPL season to his best. The first two, in 2019 and 2020, came and went without impact, while 2021 and 2022 were much better, first with Delhi Capitals, then with Rajasthan. Moving homes in the IPL can never be easy.
On Sunday, against Gujarat Titans, Hetmyer trumped all his previous cameos in the season with a spectacular, come-from-behind assault to take Rajasthan through. When Hetmyer walked in, they were 57-4 after 10.3 overs in a 178-run chase. They won with four balls to spare, with Hetmyer sealing it with a six. Along the way, he smashed an unbeaten 26-ball 56, five sixes and two fours included.
“I don’t have any words,” he summed up the terrific effort, before explaining how he prepares for these situations. “I just practise it really. It always helps to practise with the mindset that you’re a couple of wickets down and you have to get say 100 runs probably in eight overs. You just try to program your mind that way, and so far it’s working.”
Six months ago, Hetmyer did not make it to the West Indies’ T20 World Cup squad under bizarre circumstances: he missed a rescheduled flight to Australia. Now, he’s the best finisher of this IPL season, and a big reason for the Royals sitting pretty at the top of the points table. Hetmyer has always been a special talent, but also had his fair share of ups and downs. It is easy to forget that he is just 26.
It makes you wonder what a red-hot Hetmyer can do in West Indies colours. After 50 T20Is, his strike rate is 118, by no way a reflection of big-hitting abilities. His absence from the World Cup found a place in the executive summary of West Indies’ tournament performance review, a report that also said that West Indies Cricket will “cease to exist” if a middle ground between international commitments and T20 stints cannot be found.
Hetmyer, however, has enough reasons to believe that more T20 stints can do wonders to his international career. There is a lot to be fixed in West Indies cricket, but in time of crises, an in-form Hetmyer would be welcomed with open arms.
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