The Resurgence Of Haseeb Hameed
This winter will mark four years since Haseeb Hameed became the youngest debutant to open for England in a Test match. He was picked after scoring over 1,000 first-class runs for Lancashire in 2016. This, including two hundreds in the same game against Roses rivals Yorkshire in the County Championship.
Haseeb Hameed earned his first cap in the first Test against India at Rajkot on 9 November 2016. From dominating the Indian bowling, to a boy without a county halfway through 2019. It’s safe to say a lot has happened in his career since.
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The Subcontinent Special
Aged just 19, Haseeb Hameed, unphased by the sub-continent conditions and the star-studded Indian bowling attack consisting of Mohammed Shami, Ravi Ashwin, and co. made an obdurate 82 in the second innings of his first Test. This, to add to his 31 in the first test. Plus, in conditions that are highly regarded as the most difficult conditions of all for an English batsman.
Following two starts without kicking on in the second Test, a fortnight later at Mohali, the youngster made a more expansive batting eight thanks to injury, unbeaten half-century with a badly broken finger. An injury which would later rule him out of the series.
Despite an early end to his tour, England, and the world moreover had seen what everybody suspected in Hameed. He was a patient and classy operator in the mould of current captain and opening batting partner Alistair Cook. The 19-year-old was quickly earmarked as the heir to the Cook throne.
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Praise From All Quarters
The Bolton born batter wasn’t just attracting plaudits from these shores. He spoke with childhood hero Sachin Tendulkar over tea and was singled for out for praise by his modern-day hero Virat Kohli no less. “You can sense it as a captain,” Kohli said. “This guy is intelligent. He’s definitely going to be a star in all forms if he keeps persisting with his skill.”
As it transpired these three Test’s in India are Hameed’s only taste of international cricket to date. With a highest score of 82 and an average of 43.80 – where did it all go wrong?
Haseeb Hameed – A Dip In Form
Following the India tour, there was heightened media attention around the youngster. England had been waiting for a partner for Cook, and in Hameed, they had found it. Haseeb Hameed was thought to be equipped to take over the mantel when the Essex man hung up his batting gloves.
However what followed was a rapid decline in form, confidence and perhaps most importantly in this case – runs. In truth, Lancashire had persevered for two seasons, including one in Division Two, a level which Hameed should have flourished. Hameed even took to league cricket, representing Formby in an attempt to recapture his form.
Perhaps knowing there’s a player of extreme quality in there perhaps helped. But, in real terms, he hadn’t scored runs since recovering from his injury. Whether he had recovered mentally, was up for debate.
All of the hype, including the ‘Baby Boycott’ nickname he had been lumbered with probably didn’t help much either.
Early in 2019, it looked as though it all might’ve clicked back into gear for the then 22-year-old. His 218 against Loughborough in a friendly was backed up by a century at Lord’s as Lancs opened their season with a win over Middlesex. However, his form dwindled from this point on and he found himself in the 2nd XI weeks later instead of playing in the County Championship.
Midway through the 2019 season came the news everybody associated with the youngster had feared. So bad had his form got he was not to be offered a new contract by Lancashire, the county he had been with since he was a boy. Once heralded as the future poster boy of England’s opening Test match partnership, Hameed now found himself without a county.
A New Era
In the winter months at what at one point would have seemed an unthinkable crossroads in his career, following his release from Old Trafford, Haseeb Hameed found his new county, Nottinghamshire. The county was led by his former Lancashire coach Peter Moores.
Having lost his way in terms of runs Hameed was and still is in need of a renaissance. He will hope his fresh start and new surroundings will provide a change of luck and an improved impetus as he thrives to earn his England place back in the future. Although for now, he would be wise to concentrate on getting runs for his new employers.
So far he has done just that, the coronavirus pandemic meant he had to wait longer than usual for his Notts’ debut. However, when it came, it proved worth the wait. Scores of 52 in the first innings and 68 in the second in their Bob Willis Trophy match with Derbyshire will have settled any nerves he had whilst trying to impress his new teammates.
Now playing in his ongoing third match for the Trent Bridge side, Haseeb Hameed is facing his former employers. Whilst he would have been eager to show his former county what they are missing, he could only make 22 in the first and only Notts’ innings of the match.
Could Haseeb Hameed Finally Play For England Again?
Still, a change is as good as a rest, and for Hameed, who still just at 23 years old, has plenty of time on his side. He will be desperate to prove his Indian outing isn’t to be his only fortnight in the sun.
Haseeb Hameed has already shown his credentials versus spin. He was excellent in India. Now, he just needs to solidify his place for Nottinghamshire. How he bats in England, will likely make or break his career. This, given players play nearly half of their test matches at home.
After beginning his career at such an exceptionally early age, perhaps he wasn’t ready for the stardom and the acclaim. After a few poor seasons perhaps now he can recapture the form and class that earned him his call up. We may yet see Hameed dominate international bowlers, as he once looked so likely to do.
He has had a good start in the 2020 County Championship. The form, though, must continue.
After a murky three years, could the curious Haseeb Hameed story finally have its happy ending?
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