822 runs, 51.38 average with a top score of 129*, these are Sam Hain's first-class numbers for 2019. He's come a long way since struggling through a 2017 season where he averaged just 15.42 in red-ball cricket.
After bursting onto the scene in 2014, Hain's red-ball game struggled as his white-ball game excelled. If you look at his first-class average it's a respectable but not note-worthy 37.11, however, if you watched Hain in first-class cricket last year, you'd see a player who should (and did) average 50.
Hain put his struggles down to anxiety to score runs to be noticed:
“You don’t get noticed unless you score big runs in four-day cricket, that’s where you make your name,” he said.
“Put simply, when I get anxious I sort of fall over looking for the ball and in turn play balls that I should be leaving.
“I’ve had to step back a little bit and go through the basics again. That’s it, honestly. That’s all it is. England tests your technique. In England the ball moves a lot and for a long period of time.
“I’ve put a lot of work into my technique and hopefully it holds up.”
2019 saw Hain look more relaxed at the crease. He scored plenty of runs, but it wasn't his century that impressed me, it was his 82 against Essex in September. Facing the likes of Simon Harmer, Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Aaron Beard, Hain showcased his range of shots on both sides of the field.
In England we have a habit of comparing any good shot player with Ian Bell. Which is a huge compliment to Bell and how much he is revered in this country. Hain's off-side game is where you're likely to see some similarities and even Ashley Giles when he was Warwickshire's sports director made the comparison, although he added that Hain had more shots than Bell.
There is little doubt that Hain will be making an impact in the one-day side this year. His white-ball game has always been excellent, showing a composed and controlled aggression. His list A average of 59.78 says it all. Last year, Sam Hain had the best List A average of any batsmen in the world to have played at least 50 innings, better than Virat Kohli.
However, it's the red-ball game that I'm most interested in.
Hain was born in Hong Kong to two English parents. He grew up in Queensland, Australia, and made an appearance for the Australia U19 team. However, after an exchange which saw him land in England, he was quickly spotted and snapped up by Warwickshire.
While at Edgbaston, he's had the opportunity to learn under some fine ex England internationals in Giles, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. He'll also have Dominic Sibley to lean on this year, fresh off an impressive international tour debut for England in South Africa.
Hain batted #4 for Warwickshire last year, but you can't help but look at him as a potential candidate for Joe Denly's place at #3 in the England team. There are a lot of young English batsmen coming through at the moment with the likes of Dan Lawrence of Essex pushing for a place, but Hain is as talented as any batsmen in the country.
The delay to the 2020 season will hurt Sam Hain's progress, as you have to imagine that if he can replicate his 2019 success again and average around 50, an England call for the India tour may be on the horizon.