Haseeb Hameed earned praise from Virat Kohli after his sublime Test debut but injuries and a loss of form derailed his career. Now, after being offered a lifeline at Nottinghamshire, the opener says: ‘I am good enough to get into the England set up again’
- Haseeb Hameed has had countless hurdles to overcome since his England bow
- The 23-year-old earned plaudits from Virat Kohli four years ago in India
- However, his development plateaued because of injuries and a dip in form
- Nottinghamshire have offered the opener a deal to reignite his first-class career
Four years on from leaving India with the praise of Virat Kohli ringing in his ears, Haseeb Hameed’s confidence has returned to a level where he is happy to discuss his England ambitions once more.
Back in December 2016 when he returned to the UK, his fractured little finger was re-set with a metal pin. Unfortunately, his career underwent no such process.
It had appeared destined to feature dozens of international caps as the Test team’s top-order fulcrum but stalled at just three and went so out of kilter that he averaged less than 10 in the 2018 County Championship and his home county of Lancashire did not offer him a new deal last year.
Haseeb Hameed’s confidence has returned to a level where he can talk England ambitions
The 23-year-old shone on his Test debut against India as a sprightly 19-year-old in 2016
On Thursday, however, it was revealed that Nottinghamshire had seen enough of a renaissance in his disrupted, debut season of 2020 – he passed 50 three times in five first-class matches — to offer a 12-month contract extension, keeping him at Trent Bridge until 2022.
Earned through the strength of character in adversity lauded by Kohli after the young Englishman defied both pain and a struggle to grip the bat due to the shattered digit, to hit a second Test 50 down the order in Mohali.
‘For Virat to come out and say that, gives you a lot of confidence. He’s a massive inspiration because he’s so open about the downfalls he’s had in his own career,’ Hameed said.
‘He speaks a lot, opening up about his pre-fitness days and how his diet wasn’t as good as it should have been, his late nights. He’s a great one for showing what can be achieved if you put your mind to it.’
However, injuries and a dramatic dip in form left Hameed’s career hanging in the balance
Hameed has regrouped and has now earned a first-class cricket lifeline with Nottinghamshire
So how tough did things get for a player dubbed the Bolton Boycott following his emergence as an opening batsman who placed the highest of prices upon his wicket?
‘I’d say it was very tough. Look at it from a logical point of view – for someone to have had the success I had to then have the experiences that followed hit quite hard. But one thing I’ve prided myself on from a young age is that my best years come after my worst years,’ Hameed continued, recounting amongst other things how he was selected for a full England tour 12 months after being overlooked for the Under-19 World Cup.
‘That tells me I’ve got something deep down that won’t let me stop. Of course you have doubts – but I didn’t think about walking away from the game. That’s when you need something within you to stop you giving in, and try one more time. That mental resilience has been quite important for me.
The batsman says he is trying to focus on his own game more than England’s current openers
‘That ambition (of playing for England) will always be there and my memories of why I started playing the game are of having those dreams very early on. They pushed me to go that extra mile.’
In one sense, Hameed is an anomaly. Unlike other openers England have moved on from since the final weeks of 2016, he did not fail.
And in another, his game appears to be in tune with the ‘bat time’ method instilled – and implemented relatively successfully by the current first-wicket alliance of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley – during Chris Silverwood’s tenure as head coach.
But he countered: ‘For me right now, it’s less about being so methodical and so watchful. It’s more about letting my game flow and enjoying the art of batting.
‘My focus isn’t so much about what I do that they (Burns and Sibley) do or what I do that they don’t, it’s about me performing to my best and having confidence – if I am able to do that for a period of time – I am good enough to get into that England set-up again.’