What about Hetmyer?

West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer plays a shot during the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 4, 2021.  -
West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer plays a shot during the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on November 4, 2021. -

What about Hetmyer?

That has been the question on the lips of fans of the Guyanese batsman for over a year.

The question has dominated social media and even press conferences each time a West Indies squad has been selected and Shimron Hetmyer is absent.

Notwithstanding his numerous failed fitness tests, the question persists: what about Hetmyer?

Former West Indies and ODI captain Kieron Pollard, during his tenure, was bombarded with questions from the media about Hetty's absence. At times, Pollard appeared exasperated, but he always emphasised the importance of fitness and spoke highly of Hetmyer.

"We know what he can do as an individual and he has a bright future. You can never write off a guy who is 25.

"My love for Shimron is paramount, and he knows that, and we all know that. It is a matter of time for him to do all that is necessary to get back to the team. We will welcome him with open arms," Pollard said earlier this year.

On Monday Hetmyer was removed from the West Indies T20 World Cup squad, after missing not one but two flights out of Guyana to join the West Indies team for a T20 series Down Under against Australia. The series is a warm-up for the World Cup qualification round, also in Australia.

He missed the first flight, which was scheduled for October 1, for family reasons.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) rescheduled a flight for October 3, but warned that any further hiccups would result in his omission from the team..

On Monday Hetmyer informed the regional board that he would not be on the plane to Australia.

CWI director of cricket Jimmy Adams did not say why Hetmyer missed his second flight, but fans have already began speculating.

Venturing into the guessing game only serves to fuel disgruntlement and rumour mongering. West Indies fans should be wary about casting blame and pointing fingers until the facts are unearthed.

One can recall fans chastising Jamaican Fabian Allen, who made himself unavailable for West Indies during home matches earlier this year for "personal reasons."

Those fans would be embarrassed now after Allen revealed in August that his father had died after a battle with cancer, and he was not in the frame of mind to play international cricket.

However, Hetmyer's history of missing matches gives him little leeway with regional fans who are desperate for West Indies to return to being a formidable force.

Hetmyer's talent is undeniable, but is his commitment to West Indies cricket the same?

The left-handed batsman made his debut for West Indies over five years ago, and in two years has already notched his fifth ODI century. His attacking strokeplay and exciting style had West Indian fans salivating at the prospect. His leadership was also being touted after captaining the West Indies Under-19 team to a world title in 2016.

But since his last ODI century in 2019, Hetmyer has yet to reach triple figures again and his appearances for the regional team are few and far between.

Has the lure of T20 riches snatched Hetmyer from West Indies?

Global T20 stars such as Pollard, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo were able to find a balance between maximising their talents and representing West Indies cricket. Gayle has over 400 appearances in maroon. Bravo was captain of the ODI team in 2014 before he was sidelined after a public feud with the former regional cricket board.

One can only hope Hetmyer's absence is brief, and he has legitimate reasons for missing his flights.

Some would say West Indies would be foolish to move on without someone as talented. But in sport, talent without discipline is a recipe for failure. CWI has a decision to make. Coach Phil Simmons has already said he is not begging anyone to play for West Indies – and he shouldn't.

It is left up to Hetmyer to prove that West Indies cricket is still on his list of priorities, and he is ready to make the sacrifices needed to earn selection. It would be a shame if the question of his absence from the West Indies team became a rhetorical one.


"What about Hetmyer?"

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