ONE moment, Haseeb Hameed was England’s great new batting hope. The next, he was in the depths of despair.
So, if head coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root recall Hameed for Thursday’s Second Test, it would be the latest step in a remarkable story.
Returning England star Haseeb Hameed reckons he is far different to the player he was back in 2018Credit: AFP
Hameed played three Tests in 2016 before breaking a thumb and then he endured two torrid seasons at Lancashire.
His form was so desperate in 2018 that he averaged just 9.44 in first-class cricket.
Nobody — least of all Hameed himself — could understand why because he shaped up so promisingly in those three Tests.
Perhaps the move from his home county Lancashire to Notts last year allowed him to strike out on his own and achieve a greater sense of independence.
When he toured Bangladesh and India in 2016, he was accompanied throughout by his parents and several other members of his family, who all stayed in the same hotel.
One glance at Hameed now suggests he is a different person — the short back and sides of 2016 have been replaced by long, flowing locks and a luxuriant beard.
But his work ethic remains strong and he made 112 for a County XI against India last month.
Silverwood said: “Haseeb has been fantastic and fitted in beautifully with the squad. He works extremely hard and has looked good in the nets.
“He scored runs in that game against India, so he’s put a really strong case forward. He’s a pleasure to have around and the type of character we want.”
Silverwood hinted he is running out of patience with the batsmen in whom he has invested a couple of years’ work and support.
Alarmingly, the likes of Zak Crawley, Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence look worse now than when they first came into the team.
Root has been carrying England’s batting all year. He made 64 and 109 in the First Test at Trent Bridge, while England’s next highest score was Sam Curran’s 32 in the second innings.
It is putting a huge burden on the captain.
Pope is inked in to replace Lawrence at No 6 at Lord’s this week after recovering from the thigh strain that kept him out of the drawn First Test.
If Hameed plays, he is likely to bat at No 3 as a replacement for Crawley, who is averaging just 11 in Test cricket this year. Coming in for opener Dom Sibley is another option.
Moeen Ali could be summoned from outside the squad as England seek to balance the team now that Ben Stokes is out of the series.
Silverwood added: “We need to do something with the top-order. Ideally, we get the guys scoring runs again, get confidence back in them. But, if that doesn’t happen, I need to have a look.
“I’d rather be accused of giving somebody one too many chances than not enough. But you’re right – at some point, I’ll have to make a decision.”