Hameed: I am ready for the England Test call
Lancashire batsman Haseeb Hameed is fully prepared for the barrage he expects to receive as England's youngest opener.
The 19-year-old has been called up for the tour to Bangladesh and if selected to play will become the fifth-youngest player to be capped by his country behind only Brian Close, Jack Crawford, Denis Compton and Ben Hollioake.
But age has been no barrier to his success in county cricket this season as he became the youngest player in Lancashire’s history to score a thousand first-class runs, beating Michael Atherton’s record by 321 days, and has chalked up 1,154 at an average of 52 with four centuries - two in the same match against Roses rivals Yorkshire.
He knows he will become a target for international bowlers purely because of his inexperience, having only made his county debut 13 months ago, but is ready for that and insists he will not change his somewhat old-school style.
“I did want to put my marker down on county cricket as I got a taste of it last year playing in Division Two,” he told Press Association Sport.
“I knew it would be a challenge in Division One and I knew I would get targeted up front being a young opening batsman.
“But I was very keen to make sure I put a value on my wicket and make it difficult for them to get me out and I wasn’t a pushover for opposition bowlers.
“That has been particularly pleasing for me to go out and execute that.
“I am sure Test bowlers might target me, but the same principles apply. I have to control what I can and give myself the best chance to go out there and succeed and that means preparing well.
“The work will get harder and I am more than happy to put that in.
“I just have to make sure I stick to my guns and not change anything because I am moving up a level and it is something I relish and I enjoy the challenges I face.”
Hameed’s style, which is best described as patient with the youngster prepared to leave many balls and concentrate on building an innings, has led to people likening him to former England batsman Geoff Boycott.
The lanky, some would say scrawny, Bolton-born teenager understands the comparisons but insists there is a reason why he bats as he does.
“It’s funny because Boycott was one of my dad’s role models growing up so maybe it has something to do with that,” he added.
“But if you look at me I’m not as physically developed as other guys so I rely a lot on timing and patience and spending time at the crease.
“Growing up in the north - with wet and slow wickets - I’ve had to wait for the ball and play late so I’m sure that has helped me develop that sort of technique.
“But I feel if I’m strong in my basics I can expand my game in the future and I’ll continue to play my way.”
Hameed displays a maturity beyond his years both on and off the pitch and he puts that down to the influence of his dad, Ismail, who settled in Bolton after arriving from India.
“I’ve got a really supportive family who help me through moments like this as they realise at the age of 19 you can get caught up in all the chat and lose your focus,” he said.
“They’ve kept me grounded and even from a young age my dad has taught me to stay level and not get too big-headed with all the praise that comes my way.
“If you get too far ahead of yourself cricket is the sort of game where you get found out very quickly.
“My dad has been the one who has taught me everything I know and even to this day we work together; it is as much about the mental side as the cricketing side.
“He has been massive for me and hopefully we can continue that partnership.
“Mum and dad were quite emotional when they found out (about his England call-up) because they have been through it all because of me. Everything I have faced they go through it even more, whether that is highs or lows, so they were over the moon for me and even now they can’t believe it has happened at such a young age.”