Fresh from a magnificent 106 off just 78 balls in the first ODI against India, left-hand batsman Shimron Hetmyer has expressed gratitude to legendary Brian Lara for inspiring youngsters like him to "keep trying", despite the dwindling fortunes of the game in the Caribbean.
"I did look up to Brian Lara when I used to watch cricket, but most of it (shots) comes naturally to me. I am a natural stroke-player and try to play each ball on merit," Hetmyer told PTI and added, "I have spoken to a few legends in the past, they are quite fun actually, easy going - Lance Gibbs, Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara, Some of the other stars, too. Knowing that they are backing you makes me feel good,"
"They tell me to be 'just be yourself', they give suggestions like play each ball on merit and all. They try to help in every way possible, make it as easy as possible for us and encouraging us to keep pushing," he further said.
Hetmyer, who actually made a return to form after a poor 2-match Test series, where he averaged 12.50 for his 50 runs across four innings, also reflected back at his struggles against spin prowess of Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav, by saying, "I had a bad Test series, it was not one of the best ways to start a series in India but from there on I tried to forget about that as much as possible and the senior guys helped. They said don't worry and look forward to the next game,"
He expressed, "I have quite a few experienced guys to lean on, to know how it was before, even the coach (Stuart Law) who has played for Australia. How much of the big change has happened from then to now? How they played their game."
Hetmyer also reiterated that his first priority remains West Indies Cricket and he, unlike others, isn't gonna go down the route of becoming a professional T20 player in leagues around the world.
"It is a dream of mine(playing in the Indian Premier League, one day) but right now I am taking one step at a time, so I would see what awaits. But right now, I am focused on representing West Indies," he said, "I think everyone aspires to play in the IPL but first you want to represent West Indies. That is possibly the biggest thing you could possibly do as a cricketer and then you would take it from there," and signed off.
The second ODI at Visakhapatnam takes place on Wednesday, October 24.
(With inputs from PTI)