Melbourne [Australia]: 19-year-old batsman Haseeb Hameed will become England’s youngest opening batsman when he makes his debut alongside skipper Alastair Cook in the first Test of the five-match series against India, starting in Rajkot on Wednesday.
Hameed will not only become the sixth teenager to play Test cricket for England but also Cook’s 10th opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss – now the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Director of Cricket – four years ago.
Reflecting on Hameed’s inclusion in the 16-man squad, Cook described Hameed as the natural run-scorer before admitting that he is really excited to see him batting.
“It’s a very exciting day for a young guy who’s impressed everyone so far on this trip. You often wonder whether a 19-year-old coming on tour will be overawed, but he hasn’t been at all. He’s one of those natural run-scorers. He should be very proud,” said Cook of Hameed.
While heaping praise over the teenager’s incredible feat in Division One, Cook revealed that it was Hameed’s composure that pushed him ahead of the others in the reckoning.
“He’s incredibly unflappable. He looks a very good player of spin – he picks length very well and uses the crease well, both forward and back. Stuart Broad bowled at him last summer and was almost straight on the phone to me saying how impressed he was with this guy. A lot of people have said he looks like he can handle it,” cricket.com.au quoted Cook as saying.
“To average 50 in Division One (of the County Championship) as a 19-year-old is an incredible feat. I remember how hard it was and I was nowhere near the player he was at 19. It’s really exciting,” he added.
With the decision, Ben Duckett, who partnered Cook during the recent 1-1 drawn series against Bangladesh, is set to be dropped down to No. 4 spot to pave the way for the young Lancashire batsman.
Meanwhile, Gary Ballance, who managed the scores of 1, 9, 9 and 5 in the middle-order against Bangladesh, has been dropped for the opening Test against the Virat Kohli-led side.
The England squad for the opening Test is as follows:
Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, Zafar Ansari, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Haseeb Hameed, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.