NOTTINGHAM: Uncapped Lancashire teenager Haseeb Hameed has “run-scoring in his DNA”, England national selector James Whitaker said Friday, 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 an India-born cricket-loving father, told the England and Wales Cricket Board’s website on Friday.
“If you look at the size of me I’m not a basher of the ball. I concentrate more on timing, patience, spending time at the crease.”
An impressed Whitaker told Sky Sports: “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 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,” said Whitaker.
“He plays the ball late. He’s got good discipline and defence as well. But make no mistake, he’s got the shots.”
That’s certainly true too of 21-year-old left-hander Duckett, who has been included in both England’s Test and one-day squads for Bangladesh.
This season has seen Duckett score two double hundreds for Northamptonshire, but the innings that really made people take notice was a stunning 220 not out for England’s second-string Lions against Sri Lanka A in a 50-over match.
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.
But if they opt for Duckett they will have two left-handers — but of very contrasting styles, with Cook best-known as an accumulator of runs.
Whitaker is looking forward to seeing how Duckett fares in Bangladesh.
“We’ve given him a challenge to compete for the top of the order,” he said.
“We see a special talent. He’s given us every belief he can really challenge for a Test-match spot.” -AFP