Haseeb Hameed always knew he’d play at the highest level. All top sportsmen have that unshakeable self-belief, and Hameed’s confidence has already been justified. At aged just 19, and after a stellar season for Lancashire, the skinny, baby-faced opening batsman travels to Bangladesh and India as part of the senior England squad this winter.
A story to inspire a new generation
Hameed’s fairytale rise is a story that can inspire young cricketers everywhere. Schooled by his cricket-mad father, initially in their living room in Bolton, Hameed found himself facing up to the challenge of hard-ball cricket for the first time in 2005 aged just 8.
His first game of cricket under formal rules set the tone for what was to follow. His two big brothers turned out for their local under-15s and one day – as is familiar to anyone who has grown up on club cricket – the team found themselves short of numbers. The 8 year old Hameed plugged one of the gaps and he duly top-scored with 19 not out.
To have not lost his wicket against a daunting set of under-15s was huge, and the following week he turned out again and chiseled out an unbeaten 22. He was hooked.
A year later, the starry-eyed nine year old found himself thrust into Lancashire’s under-11 side as a leg spinner who batted a bit, with his diminutive size making batting a serious test against better players. But Hameed continued to thrive on being chucked into the deep end and he quickly honed a style that has stayed with him.
Because I was physically very small, I had to rely on timing the ball. I couldn’t muscle it past fielders and because of that I had to play it late as well. The other thing was the nature of the pitches, typical league cricket up north where it rains a lot; it’s slow and low. You’ve got to be careful driving on the up and the like. I had to wait for the ball and not leave my bubble, be patient. It’s always been that way for me.
He made his first century for Lancashire’s u11s and the obdurate opener never looked back, always competing in older age groups as he progressed.
A classical nudger and nurdler
In an era of fast scoring and unconventional techniques, Hameed is a rare throwback. Frequently compared to unflappable, tough-as-teak types like Michael Atherton and Geoffrey Boycott, Hameed has every shot in the book but one of his greatest strengths is keeping most of them in the locker in red ball cricket.
Fast forward to 2016 and Hameed was dealt a rare blow at the start of the new season as he was surprisingly left out of the England under-19 squad for the World Cup. Still on Lancashire’s books, the local lad was disappointed but unbowed, and soon found himself opening the batting in the first XI.
In his debut full season in the top division, he became the first Lancashire player ever to score centuries in both innings of the same Roses game against Yorkshire – and the youngest Lancashire player ever to do so. He racked up over 1,000 runs, breaking Atherton’s record as the youngest Lancashire player to reach the landmark, and the England call-up became inevitable.
Hameed will make his England debut in the first Test against India, becoming the second youngest debutant to open for England in Test history. He will open the batting with skipper Alastair Cook – and the pair could prove an immovable and irresistible force at the top of the England order. As a young lad of Asian descent playing for England, Hameed is a wonderful role model for youngsters at grassroots level and everyone here at KUDOS can’t wait to see how his international career develops. We expect him to be around for a long, long time, inspiring a new generation of classical batsmen.
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