IPL: ‘It’s my strength vs your strength when I’m at the crease’ – Shepherd


West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd has established himself as a regular in T20I cricket and franchise T20 leagues around the world. In the run-up to the 2024 T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA, coach Daren Sammy name-checked Shepherd as one of the players who can dominate the tournament. But before that, he will be in action for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Shepherd talks about his power-hitting, slower balls, growing up with Shamar Joseph in Baracara, and reuniting with Kieron Pollard at Mumbai.

Your next assignment is with Mumbai Indians – one of the best franchises in T20 cricket – where you will reunite with your first West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard. How excited are you?

Yes, Kieron was the one who gave me the opportunity [to play for West Indies] in Lucknow [in 2019]. I’m thankful for that. To go back and play under him at MI once again is a joy. He has also been someone who has shared a lot of information with me, both batting- and bowling-wise. He has played so many T20 games and the experience is always there. He always has some challenge for you to work on.

When I got the call that I will be with MI this IPL, I was very happy to play for one of the best franchises in the league and one of the well-known franchises in the world. That’s something that comes with some added pressure because you’re in the spotlight playing for a champion team. But I don’t want to pressure myself too much. I just want to relax and work my way into the team. If given an opportunity in the XI, I must be ready for any challenge thrown at me.


Romario Shepherd has only played four matches in the IPL so far across two seasons, scoring 58 runs and taking three wickets

Being a middle-order power-hitter or finisher is one of the toughest roles in T20 cricket. How do you prepare for the role?

Yes, it’s very tough and it’s something I’ve been working on. Before the CPL started, [the Guyana Amazon Warriors team management] told me that [lower down the order] is where I’m going to bat and that I will not get a lot of deliveries to face. So if I get just five balls, I have to make use of it. Obviously, the role might change if there are a lot of overs remaining.

The way I train and prepare myself before the game is just to face ten to 12 balls, because I was only facing that many in the match down the order. Most times I was ready mentally because I was training for that.

In those games where I get those ten or 12 balls, I try to get 20-something. That’s the way I prepare before a game. I have to capitalise on any loose ball that comes my way. That was a conversation with the coach [Lance Klusener] and captain [Imran Tahir] at the CPL.

In my role – both batting and bowling – I think the game situation dictates how I play. If I go out to bat and I know it’s boundary time, I would have had a look at the game and I would have a fair idea of what each bowler is trying to do in those conditions. When I get out there, it’s about me pushing on.

I know how captains try to bowl at me and how bowlers bowl at me. These days, most bowlers go wide or bowl into the wicket, according to the boundary size, so that’s something I prepare for. When I reach the crease, I know how I want to go.

What is the key to your six-hitting?

Sometimes it’s just strength (laughs) and having a good bat. Sometimes you mishit one and it flies [for six].

It’s tough – everyone expects us [finishers] to go and hit a six from ball one. Some days it just doesn’t happen. Balls that you normally hit for six, they just don’t go. It’s about you slowing down the moment, and in that moment, you will know you’re just trying too hard. In that moment, you look at your base and see if you’re holding your shape for long enough.

All of that you have to calculate in five-ten balls because you don’t have the time like the opening batsmen do. You need to go out there and try to hit sixes from ball one. But once you get it right, you can get your name up there fast.

I embrace that role and I trust my process. It doesn’t matter who is bowling, I back myself to clear the rope against them because I know my strength. So it’s my strength vs your strength when I’m at the crease.

“Everyone expects us [finishers] to go and hit a six from ball one. Some days it just doesn’t happen. In that moment, you look at your base and see if you’re holding your shape for long enough”•Associated Press
You bowled a slower yorker like the ones Dwayne Bravo used to, to dismiss Glenn Maxwell in Perth in February. How did you develop that variation?

It’s something I’ve been working on for a very long time. Actually Bravo was the one who told me I have to get the dip on the slower ball to make it more effective. Because if you just bowl it like a normal cutter, it will slide on on a good wicket, so you need to beat the batsman in the air.

If you beat the batsman in the air, it doesn’t matter how good the wicket is for batting. That slower ball did beat Maxwell in the air more likely than on the ground.

Dwayne is someone I have looked up to. He has been an inspiration to me, and he knows that. Even before this series against Australia, I had a conversation with him about bowling on these kinds of wickets and field placing in Australia and stuff like that.

That’s something I do on a regular basis – talk to him before the start of a series and get information from him.

I had never played in Australia before and on the first night after I landed there, I hit Dwayne up on WhatsApp and asked him for ideas to bowl there.

You also dismissed Shakib Al Hasan with a nifty back-of-the-hand variation in the BPL recently.

It’s something I used to do in Under-19s, but after that it kind of went away from me and I don’t know why I stopped bowling the back-of-the-hand slower ball. It was only last year I started bowling it again in matches.

I was bowling it at the nets, but last year I found the confidence to actually bowl it in matches. Sometimes you can bowl one down the leg and maybe bowl one wide [of off stump]. You need to be confident and trust the process. Shakib is someone who can use your pace against you.

Having also operated with the new ball in the CPL, do you feel that you’ve grown as a bowler over the last year or so?

I’ve always been someone who you can give different roles to because I understand the game a bit more now. Bowling with the new ball, I know the challenges [with the field up]. Basically, I try to swing the new ball because I know I have the ability. But in different teams, I have different roles.

The Guyana Amazon Warriors captain, Imran Tahir, told me that bowling with the new ball in the powerplay is an area where he needed me.

So, even during practice, I bowled with the new ball more and stuff like that. It worked out for me in the CPL because I know once I get the ball to swing, it creates problems for batsmen. If there’s no swing, then I go with hard length and play with the field placement.

You are now a regular for West Indies and a number of T20 franchises. Tell us about your early years in Baracara village in Guyana.

I grew up in a very small community – me and Shamar [Joseph] grew up in the same area and went to the same primary school. My upbringing was very humble and I believe that’s where I get my discipline from. I always try to remain humble because I know where I come from. I know how hard it was to come up. So every time I’m put in a tough spot, I take my mind back to where I started.

In 2021, I talked about my life story [on video]. We never went to school with shoes on our feet – 99% of the kids never went to school with shoes on their feet. When I came out of that area and went to secondary school, in New Amsterdam, you had to wear shoes to school.

In Baracara you never go to school with shoes on the feet because most times you get a boat to school. Most of the transportation there is by river. There’s no concrete road as such, just mud roads.

In the first game I played at school, I got a hundred. I was taken to this club – Tucber Park Club – and introduced to the guy who was running it at the time – Carl Moore. From there on, I never really looked back.

Moore took me under his wing and saw the talent in me. He started to look after me off the field as well and made sure I came to training every day (laughs). If I don’t get to training on a day, I would get a call. He made sure that everything was okay with me even outside of cricket. That discipline he taught me off the field, I feel, is more important than what he taught me on it.

Didn’t your son recently play for Tucber Park Club as well?

Exactly. I don’t think there’s any other club he can go to (laughs). Tucber Park is always the club for him and me. Shamar played for the same club with me, and we also have Tremayne Smartt, who has played for West Indies Women, and Nial Smith, who has played for Guyana in first-class cricket. Most of them from the club are fast bowlers; I’m the only allrounder.

You and Shamar won the CPL together last year. You have played a lot of club cricket together, but you could potentially go up against him in the IPL. Is this the first time you will face each other in an official game?

We have played practice games in Guyana and he has bowled to me in the nets and got me out, but this will be the first time in an official game. Shamar is bowling fast; he has gotten faster. He can bowl 150kph and I have to be more careful with him.

If he gets me out [in the IPL], he’s going to tell me about it all day (laughs), so I’m going to make sure that he doesn’t get me out. And hopefully, I can hit him for a few [runs].  (ESPNcricinfo) 


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.