Uncapped Lancashire teenager Haseeb Hameed has “run-scoring in his DNA”, England national selector James Whitaker said on Friday (September 16) after confirming his place in the Test squad for the tour of Bangladesh.
The 19-year-old Hameed is set to compete with Ben Duckett, another uncapped batsman, for the opening berth alongside captain Alastair Cook after it was left vacant by Alex Hales’s decision not to tour on security grounds.
If Hameed plays in the first Test at Chittagong next month, he will become just the sixth teenager selected by England in 139 years of Test cricket, and the first since the late Ben Hollioake in 1997.
But there is no denying his talent, with Hameed averaging over 50 in his 19-match first-class career.
This season he has scored four first-class hundreds, including two in the one match against Yorkshire that saw him become the first Lancashire batsman to score two centuries in a Roses fixture.
For a cricketer who has come of age in the Twenty20 era, Hameed is something of an old-fashioned opener.
“A lot of people recently have said I’m not your typical modern-day player,” Hameed, the son of the son of an Indian-born cricket fan who settled in Bolton, said.
“If you look at the size of me, I’m not a basher of the ball. I concentrate more on timing, patience, and spending time at the crease.”
An impressed Whitaker said: “Hameed is a real quick learner. He’s played against some quality county attacks and we’ve seen progress in every innings.
“We think he’s got loads of technical qualities – really good, solid technique and a great temperament. Above all else, he’s got run-scoring in his DNA.
“Let’s not put too much pressure (on him) because he’s only a 19-year-old player. But we’re excited and I’m sure he’ll bring lots of quality to the team.”
For all his traditional style, the right-handed Hameed is capable of upping the tempo when required.
“He’s got the shots in the locker, he’s just very shrewd as to when he uses them,” Whitaker added.
“He plays the ball late. He’s got good discipline and defence as well. But make no mistake, he’s got the shots.”
Cook has had eight different opening partners – Nick Compton, Joe Root, Michael Carberry, Sam Robson, Jonathan Trott, Adam Lyth, Moeen Ali and Hales – in the four years since former captain Andrew Strauss retired, with a ninth on the way in Bangladesh.
If England go with Hameed, they will have a left-hand/right-hand combination at the top of the order.
“I am sure Test bowlers might target me,” Hameed said. “But the same principles apply. I have to control what I can and give myself the best chance to go out there and succeed, and that means preparing well.”
Hameed’s painstaking, almost old-fashioned, batting style has been compared to that of Yorkshire and England opening great Geoffrey Boycott.
“It’s funny because Boycott was one of my dad’s role models growing up, so maybe it has something to do with that,” explained Hameed.
“Growing up in the north (of England) – with wet and slow wickets – (means) I’ve had to wait for the ball and play late, so I’m sure that has helped me develop that sort of technique.”
Hameed, who was left out of the England Under-19 squad for last year’s junior World Cup in Bangladesh, paid tribute to his father Ismail’s influence by adding: “My dad has been the one who has taught me everything I know.
“Even to this day we work together; it is as much about the mental side as the cricketing side.”
England’s tour of Bangladesh – which begins on September 30 and will include two Tests and three ODIs – was under threat after an attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July that saw 20 hostages killed, including 18 foreigners.
Following the attack, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sent a fact-finding delegation to Bangladesh led by Reg Dickason, their security officer, which concluded it was safe to tour, although that did not stop Hales and England one-day captain Eoin Morgan from pulling out.