Haseeb Hameed may become Alastair Cook’s opening partner for tours of Bangladesh and India
Published - Sep 4, 2016 6:51 am | Updated - Sep 4, 2016 6:51 am
Haseeb Hameed, the teenage sensation from Lancashire, might soon enjoy the fruits of his amazing pro season debut that with his county side as England are likely to fiddle with the option of making him Alastair Cook’s new opening partner this winter.
The Lancashire batsman appears certain to feature in the Test squads to tour Bangladesh and India when they are announced a week on Tuesday.
Last Thursday Andrew Strauss, the director of cricket, and James Whitaker, the national selector, witnessed his latest half-century against Somerset.
Known for his traditional approach of batting developed training with his father, Hameed feels ready for the next step.
“‘One of the things I have had from a young age is a belief I will play international cricket for England. It has always been in the back of my mind,” says Hameed.
“Recently, the talk about me has been difficult to get away from, but it is something I have tried to take in my stride. I just decided that if I focus on the here and now, then hopefully the future will look after itself. But it’s my dream to play for England, not only play but to a good level, and I think I am ready. The reason I say that is because I have been able to put in performances against high-class opposition.”
“My first hundred this season came against Jeetan Patel, Rikki Clarke, Keith Barker, guys who have been around a long time. The second was against Stuart Broad and Imran Tahir, and the Yorkshire game was pretty special as well.”
Last season, Hameed achieved what other Lancashire batsmen have never done so far – score two centuries in a Roses match.
“Performances like that give me confidence and you can’t be a good quality sportsman until you have that belief in yourself. If I don’t believe in myself it’s not fair to ask others to believe in me. I feel ready. But I know if I get my chance the work will get harder.”
“One of the first things I got from my dad after I got my two hundreds against Yorkshire was, “Take your game further now”. His message was, “You can’t rest on your laurels. Never be satisfied.”
Hameed is the first teenage opening batsman to score four Championship centuries in a season and the youngest player in first-class history to score two in a match.
“Playing in the First Division for the first time I knew it was going to be tough, a real challenge,’ he said. ‘But I have always wanted to make it as difficult as possible for the opposition — to force them to make plans to get me out.”
“I want to put a value on my wicket. I don’t want to be someone that comes off every seven or eight innings because they play in an attacking and flashy kind of way. I want to be someone who puts in performances consistently, makes big scores and that comes from understanding your game, calibrating risk.”
“The technique comes from my dad’s coaching. We believe it is vitally important to have strong basics to be successful. If you look at the best players in the world, guys like Joe Root, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, they are unbelievably strong in their basics.”
“Even AB de Villiers — who plays all these fancy shots — when you hear him talk about batting, he focuses on keeping his head in line with the ball, and his balance. To have that will help you play all three formats, whereas if you go the other way and train yourself to play in the T20 fashion, maybe it’s more difficult to convert your performances into the longer format.”
Hameed, the youngest among three brother Safwaan and Nuaman, says still remembers the days when he used to play with the oversized cricket gears which his brothers, who were 12 and 11 years his senior to him respectively, used to play.
“I would rock up with oversized gear and demand to play,’ he says. ‘Dad clearly saw a little bit of a spark in me.”
His father kept him involved with the game right since a small age. He began playing cricket as a leg spinner as a 8 year old for Tonge Cricket Club and then went for the trials with Lancashire with the Under-11s followed where he was rejected for being too small and skinny.
“You think I am skinny now, you should have seen me then. I was no bigger than the stumps,’ he grins. Too small, they said. Come back next year, they said.”
Hameed made his transition from being a bowler to becoming a batsman would come he as a tail-ender, he hit 48 not out, including a single off the last ball, to end Warwickshire’s two-year unbeaten record. As an opener the following summer he got his first Lancashire hundred. At 11, he won the coveted Cedric Rhodes Trophy, the club’s player of the year award for Under-19 and below.
Hameed insists two significant jolts have made him what he is today. The first came when he was 14 and thought he knew it all which consequently affected his results in the middle.
“I started training poorly; thought I knew best,” Hameed said.
The second jolt is the reason behind his run making fest this season. Last December, England’s coach Andy Hurry informed him at the team hotel in Sri Lanka that he would not be going to the Under-19 World Cup.
“I was heartbroken,’ he said. ‘As an age-group cricketer, the Under-19 World Cup is the highest level you can play at. The only thing I hadn’t done was play in a World Cup. Getting to the final hurdle and being left out was devastating.”
”‘If I am given the opportunity to represent my country I am pretty sure I will take it,’ he said. ‘I will be more than happy to fly out there.”