Bangladesh v England Tests
Teenager primed for England Test debut
England look set to bring two debutant batsmen into their XI for the first Test in Chittagong
Chris Stocks in Chittagong
18 October 2016, 09:50 AM AEST
Haseeb Hameed is primed to become the first teenager to represent England in almost 20 years after he struck a composed half-century on the last day of his side’s final warm-up match in Bangladesh.
At 19, Hameed looks set to follow in the footsteps of Ben Hollioake, who made his own Test debut against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1997, when the two-Test series against Bangladesh gets underway here in Chittagong on Thursday.
The youngster has had an outstanding season for Lancashire in the County Championship, hitting four hundreds and seven half-centuries and facing more balls than any other batsman in the English summer just gone.
Quick single: England bowlers get taste of toil ahead
Hameed scored another half-century in this final tour match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, taking 114 balls to get there before eventually retiring at tea on 57.
It might be no surprise to hear then his style is more stoic than cavalier, subverting the cliché that all young players who have been raised in the T20 era are automatically programmed to be expansive and attacking.
Hameed has been dubbed the 'Baby Boycott', which could be seen as a compliment if he can show the same kind of resilience at the crease as the former England captain.
That stubborn streak and ability to guard his wicket as if his life depended on it was in evidence here as he took 40 minutes of the afternoon session to add to the 26 runs he had to his name at lunch. It would have been nothing new to followers of Lancashire, who have been raving about Hameed for months now.
With captain Alastair Cook having been absent for these two tour matches to attend the birth of his second child back in England, Ben Duckett, a rather more aggressive batsman who also looks set for his own Test debut this week at No.4, has opened with Hameed in these two tour matches.
Duckett said on Monday: "We both know our games well and I think Has could just bat for days and he’d be happy.
"He’s not fussed about whacking it and going at whatever rate. So he’s very happy."
Trevor Bayliss, England’s Australian coach, has gone on record in the past saying he’d prefer two more dynamic players in the top three alongside Cook, who arrived in Bangladesh from England on Monday after his wife Alice gave birth to a baby girl.
Quick single: Bangladesh name youthful squad for England Tests
Bayliss' public pronouncements about the desirability of more expansive batsman at the top of the order appeared to affect Nick Compton, whose recall at No.3 last winter did not survive into the second half of the English summer.
However, with Root at three, Duckett at four and the explosive trio of Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow to follow, England can afford to play someone more circumspect like Hameed alongside Cook if they believe he will be the long-term answer to a problem position that has seen Cook have eight opening partners since his predecessor as captain Andrew Strauss retired in 2012.
Bayliss himself spoke positively of Hameed before the youngster was selected for this tour, saying at the end of the English summer: "If he’s good enough, he’s old enough."
Hameed would only be the third teenager to represent England in 67 years after Hollioake, who died tragically at the age of 23 in a car crash in Perth in 2002, and Brian Close, who was 18 when picked to face New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949.
It’s astonishing to think Hameed, who last season became the first Lancashire player in history to score hundreds in both innings against Yorkshire, only made his first-class debut in August of last year.
But such has been his success in 2016, he has drawn comparisons with another Yorkshire batsman who is rather more current than Geoffrey Boycott – Joe Root.
Hameed’s upright style at the crease has drawn comparisons with Root as has his unflappable temperament.
Root, who is now among the best batsmen in the world alongside Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli, only made his debut on England’s tour of India four years ago.
And Paul Farbrace, England’s assistant coach, has told Hameed to follow his team-mate’s example if he wants to succeed at international level.
"We’re all excited to see what Haseeb can do out here," said Farbrace. "To get a hundred in both innings against Yorkshire in County Championship cricket, he can play.
"But you never know until people play international cricket whether they’ve got the right mental make up to cope with it.
"The majority of the time your technique is not in doubt, it’s everything else.
"There’s more cameras, more reporters, more people watching, more interest, more pressure. It’s a goldfish bowl and the people who cope with it and learn quickly are the people who make a success of international cricket.
"Joe Root is a great example for the young fella to watch and see how he’s developed from someone who not that long ago was batting number six for Yorkshire and is now batting three for England and rated as one of the best players in the world.
"He’s got a great role model to copy, watch and learn from but the important thing is he needs to play his way."
One of the biggest influences on Hameed’s career has been his father, Indian-born Ismail, who has been his coach since the age of eight and who is flying out to Bangladesh this week with several other family members to watch his son’s potential debut.
And if Hameed does get his chance, they won’t be the only ones watching on with interest.