Teenager Hameed set for big future

Hameed - way ahead of schedule
Hameed - way ahead of schedule
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England believe teenage Lancashire opener Haseeb Hameed is years ahead of schedule as a Test cricketer.

Hameed’s second-innings 82 on debut in Rajkot, watched by his parents and several family members in the Indian state which was once home to his mother and father, was an obvious indication of huge potential.

England coach Trevor Bayliss is wary of adding the pressure of unfair expectation on the 19-year-old’s shoulders, after he hit the highest Test score by any English teenager in the drawn series opener.

Even so, the Australian could not stop himself comparing Hameed’s run-hungry approach - on and off the field - with that of one of his greatest charges, Sri Lanka’s record-breaker Kumar Sangakkara.

Bayliss saw at first hand, as Sri Lanka coach, what made Sangakkara tick - and he has already spotted similar characteristics in Hameed.

“It’s early days obviously for him - but the early signs are that he’s a very, very good player,” he said.

“For one so young, 19, his composure is very good. He knows how his game works - something that players years in advance of him would like to have, I think.

“Without wanting to put too much pressure on him, the signs are good.”

Hameed’s assured behaviour around the squad, on his maiden tour of course, has also been noted.

Bayliss added: “He’s been with the squad for about six weeks, but it feels like he’s been here for two or three years - he’s got that type of a personality.

“He’s one of those batters, a little bit like a Sangakkara, who just loves batting - whether it’s in the nets, having throwdowns or with a tennis ball in the changing room. He just loves to have a bat in his hand.”

Hameed figured in an opening stand of 180 with Alastair Cook, who went on to post his 30th Test century before declaring on 260 for three and allowing his bowlers to apply late pressure on India.

The hosts then recovered from 71 for four, with two hours left to play, to close out the stalemate on 172 for six - thanks principally to an unbeaten 49 from their captain Virat Kohli.

For England, though, there was much reason for renewed optimism that they can be competitive through the remaining four Tests - starting in Vizag on Thursday.

“We’re very pleased, more so from the point of view of the effort we put in over the five days,” said Bayliss.

“Win, lose or draw, I thought effort-wise that’s probably the best performance we’ve had since I’ve been with the team.

“The way the guys played should give us plenty of confidence - batting and bowling.

“We acquitted ourselves very well, but we’re under no illusions that these next four Tests (could be) even tougher than this one. So we’ve got to continue putting in that effort.

“If we do, we’ve a chance of winning.”

England are yet to decide whether to bring all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson into the second-Test equation, following his recovery from a stress fracture of his right shoulder.

The Lancashire seamer flew out to join the squad on the eve of the first Test, and bowled without discomfort in the nets.

Bayliss said: “We’ll assess him in the next couple of days.

“The medical staff say he’s in better shape than he was when he came back and played against Pakistan (last summer).

“These last five days have been tough, so we’ll have to assess how everyone has come through - and then we’ll make a decision.”