Haseeb Hameed looks set to make his England Test debut on Thursday against Bangladesh and has the quality to lay to rest a long running selection conundrum.
England have been striving for solidity in their opening Test partnership since Andrew Strauss retired in August 2012. Alastair Cook has been speed dating ever since, desperate to find that one reliable partner whose eyes he can look into and feel safe and assured.
Hameed barely looks old enough to have dated at all – comparisons to the cherubic Joe Root don’t end with their technique with the willow.
But when Lancashire’s 19-year-old opener walks to the crease alongside Cook to open England’s innings in Chittagong the Test ambitions of a generation of England openers will go unfulfilled. The likes of Adam Lyth, Alex Hales and any who still harbour hopes of becoming Cook’s long-term opening partner, will see their Test aspirations finally consigned to history. Just another of Captain Cook’s exes.
Hameed scored 1,198 Championship runs this summer at an average of 49.92. He will become England’s youngest ever opening batsman. He’s got the ability to remain at the crease for a long time and to remain in the team for what, certainly in recent times, will seem like forever.
Hameed is one for the purists and his technique is excellent. Like Root before him he has impressed every time he’s taken a step up in class, because he knows what he’s doing and trusts his technical ability to do it.
One perceived downside of a Cook and Hameed opening combo is that there will be few fireworks. Both men play within themselves, execute the percentages and do not give their wickets away. Lancashire skipper Steven Croft has described Hameed as The Great Wall of Bolton. Some call him the Baby Boycott, but others think a Bolton Boycott tag caters for his likely career longevity.
Yorkshire folk knew the name Joe Root long before he made his county debut. Similarly in Lancashire, Hameed’s talent as a youngster meant the Red Rose faithful knew something special was coming. The good news, for them and for England – he’s now here. And, given a fair wind and the odd slice of luck, which we all need, he’s here to stay.
- Cricket Badger’s ‘Bangladesh v England Test Betting: Players to watch as Cook’s men go into battle‘ article for Betfair