Why I'm Backing Haseeb Hameed for a Big 2020 Season

Back in 2016, Haseeb was averaging 46 in first-class cricket. Back in 2016, Hasseb was averaging 43 in test cricket on the back of a superb tour of India where he top-scored with 82. Three years later and he's last seen playing for Lancashire's 2nd XI, deemed surplus to requirements for a team chasing promotion from Division 2.

What happened to cause such a meteoric fall for a player that made his England debut at the age of just 19? And not only made his debut but excelled on his debut in India of all places, a location where few English batsmen relish the thought of taking guard.

The problems for Hameed started before he boarded the flight back to Blighty, his tour of India being cut short when he was hit on the left hand during the 3rd test in Mohali. A broken finger was diagnosed and his promising tour was over.

Although Haseeb showed signs of being back to his free-flowing best in 2017 with scores of 88 against Essex, followed by a good knock of 62 against Somerset, his season was again derailed by another broken finger, this time against Middlesex. Hameed averaged just 28.50.

If you look at the way Haseeb plays, he's got a low hand grip which makes him susceptible to getting hit on the hand. The problem when you get hit is that you stop coming forward as confidently. When you're hesitant it coming forward, it can throw your game off.

Unfortunately for Hameed this injury setback and a loss of form put him on the back-foot for a 2018 season where he averaged just 9.70 in 10 games having faced only 499 balls all season.

At a time where Hameed needed the support of his coaching and management team, Director of cricket for Lancashire Paul Allott gave an interview to Wisden, where he commented:

“He’s got six months left on his contract, and he’s not scored a run for two years. Not only is he a million miles away from England, he’s hanging on by his fingertips at Lancashire.”

If you want a quick lesson in how not to manage, this is it right there. Don't forget that Hameed was only 22 at the time of that comment and he's only 23 today.

Early last year Hameed scored a double century in Lancashire's final warm-up game against Loughborough MCCU team. And 2019 was a much better season for Hameed in general as he scored 341 runs for an average of 28.42. His century against Middlesex was his first ton in three years. He went through a little dip in form and then found himself playing in Lancashire's XI.

He wasn't exactly knocking on the door for an England call, but after averaging under 10, hitting 28.42 is a considerable effort.

As the season drew to a close it was clear that Hameed wasn't going to be offered a new contract at Lancashire, but in my opinion, that's not a bad thing. Haseeb didn't perform to his capabilities, but the lack of support from higher management meant that it was time to go.

2020 gives Haseeb Hameed a new opportunity. A fresh start and a chance to start rebuilding his career with Nottingham, under the watchful and supportive eye of Peter Moores who commented on his signing:

"There's no doubting Haseeb's talent.
"It doesn't get much tougher than Test cricket in India and he proved over there, at a very young age, that he has all the skill, temperament and patience to succeed at the highest level.
"He's enjoyed some more difficult times since then, and that's going to happen with young players, but the ones that are destined for great things bounce back and move their games on again."

If you saw the century against Middlesex in 2019 you would have been transported back to Rajkot in 2016. Flowing front-foot drives through the off-side, punches down the ground, crisply struck pull shots to square and a forward defensive that would have Geoffrey Boycott nodding like the Churchill dog.

Haseeb showed that the talent was still there. The temperament was still there, the patience was still there.

Right now for Hameed he just needs to take it slow. First, concentrate on getting a run of consistent scores of 30+, then look for that half-century, then the century. Then when you're making consistent runs, you then start looking for that Lions call to get back into the international set-up. That may seem a long way away, but I have every confidence that with a fresh start, Hameed can re-find that form that made everyone so giddy just over 3 years ago.

You don't average over 40 in test cricket over multiple matches in India unless you have some serious talent. You just don't. I'm backing Hameed to show people why he's still got a bright future in the game and why calling time on his England potential is premature.


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