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Test debut caps a year to remember for Hameed

From Under-19 disappointment to breaking records with Lancashire and winning his first cap, it has been an eventful 12 months for Haseeb Hameed.

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Test debut caps a year to remember for Hameed

Haseeb Hameed is presented with his Test cap by Michael Atherton

It is less than seven months since Haseeb Hameed faced his first ball in Division One cricket, in what was only his fifth County Championship appearance in either division. The bowler was Stuart Broad, as Lancashire played Nottinghamshire in their first match of the season at Emirates Old Trafford.

Now Hameed is back in Gujarat, the Indian state of his ancestors where he has attended many a family celebration, to make a fairytale England debut – and his team-mates will include Broad, playing in his 100th Test.

He does not turn 20 until January, making him only the second teenager to play a Test for England since Brian Close in 1949. Ben Hollioake was the other – Hameed is in distinguished company.

But he has been dreaming of this moment since forging his earliest cricketing memories, playing in the living room of the Hameed family home in Bolton. Not just dreaming of it, but working purposefully towards it – in combination with his father Ismail, who had emigrated from Gujarat to the north of England, and who modelled his own game on Geoffrey Boycott.

Haseeb Hameed scored four centuries for Lancashire last summer

Haseeb Hameed scored four centuries for Lancashire last summer

On the day his inclusion in England’s squad for the Test tours of Bangladesh and India was announced in September, Hameed had reflected engagingly on his cricketing development. He recalled playing for Tong’s under-15s as an eight-year-old. The ridge in the front garden which allowed his dad and brothers to test him with sharp turn. Breaking the odd valuable in those living room games, “with my dad sitting on the sofa and throwing balls at me”.

He moved on from Tong to other clubs in Bolton, and attended Bolton School – he now adds to a distinguished list of old boys including Sir Ian McKellen, Mark Radcliffe and the former Lancashire captain Jack Bond, although he will be the first to have played international cricket.

He played for all Lancashire’s age group teams, and progressed to the county’s Academy – he was keen to identify John Stanworth, the former wicketkeeper who was the Academy director, as a key influence in his development.

That serene-seeming progress continued to the England Under-19s team, for whom he made an impressive early impression against South Africa in 2014, played a match-saving innings against Australia in Perth the following winter, and was appointed captain in a return match against the Aussies in Durham in 2015. Later in the summer Ashley Giles, in his first season as Lancashire’s coach, handed him his first-class debut.

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But then last winter, Hameed received a serious jolt. He was omitted from England’s squad for the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh. “That was the lowest point of my career,” he said. “I’d expected to go and had put my mind to it, so to be told I wasn’t going was heartbreaking – for my family, as well as me.”

What a transformation, from that devastating disappointment to the fairytale seven months he has gone on to enjoy, from facing Broad at Old Trafford in April to teaming up with him in Rajkot.

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