Haseeb Hameed, relationships and the toughness of love

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Everything unravelled for Haseeb Hameed at Lancashire. You got the sense that the unravelling momentum was so great towards the end that the county were switching between management strategies every other day in a desperate bid to stumble on something that worked. In contrast, Hameed’s new county, Nottinghamshire, have settled on dealing with him in one particular way. And they’ve stuck with it.

Lancashire’s director of cricket, Paul Allott, once said that Hameed’s extreme loss of form was a “complete and utter mystery.”

In a famous quote, Allott told BBC Radio Lancashire: “We gave him more opportunity, probably, than he deserved all through the summer.” Then as if to illustrate the mad oscillation between carrot and stick, he added: “But, having said that, I’ve not seen a more talented young opening batsman in my 40 odd years in the game.”

A few months later, Allott told Wisden that Hameed was, “hanging on by his fingertips at Lancashire.”

Allott doesn’t emerge from this particularly well. But it’s a snapshot in time. What we were seeing was a club that had already tried any number of logical things at a point where the logical ideas had dried up.

By persisting with Hameed through years of runlessness and variously cajoling, encouraging or bollocking him into performing better, Lancashire had developed a very complicated relationship with the player. Every interaction with coaches, management and players will have been loaded with meaning, one way or another.

After being released, he joined Nottinghamshire, where pretty much everyone just wanted him to do well.

Peter Moores is almost a figure of fun to some people after his two failed stints with England. But to a lot of young players, he is a figure of fun in an entirely positive way. Quite a lot of cricketers very much enjoy playing under a coach who can be more supportive than most.

Moores can pick out and lift a young player. James Anderson was just some lad who spent lunch breaks bowling at a single stump before Moores became England coach. Stuart Broad, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann all came to prominence during his first tenure too.

He is unfailingly effusive when he speaks about Hameed and the club have also made him vice-captain for the Championship and captain of the one-day side.

It is easy to look at all this and Hameed’s consequent recall into the England squad and conclude that this is what Lancashire should have been doing all along. But it doesn’t work like that. Complexities have been stripped away.

Hameed’s operating in a simpler environment now. There’s no history. There are no failed experiments. His time at Nottinghamshire is characterised by constant progress. This is a great trajectory to be on and there’s no real need to dwell on the fact that it’s a hell of a lot more likely when you’re starting from such a low ebb.

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  1. Do you think it’s the right time to get him back into the England squad? I think it’s probably a bit too soon for him to be playing, but he’ll only benefit from being in that environment again. Of course, if Dom Sibley’s finger goes again, he could well be opening the batting against India on the basis of essentially two months-worth of runs.

    Mind you, there aren’t exactly candidates jumping out of the walls, so I suppose it may as well be him as anyone.

    (That sounded quite negative – I do actually quite like Haseeb Hameed and want him to do well).

  2. Sometimes fine sportspeople outgrow the family member/coach/team that got them through childhood to a very high level of achievement. In order to go from very high to even higher, they need to move on. No shame on the family member/coach/team that took them through those early stages – indeed quite the opposite.

    It might have been completely different had Haseeb Hameed not picked up that untimely injury. Or possibly he’d have had a doldrums phase anyway.

    I sincerely hope Haseeb Hameed goes from strength (via doldrums now past) to strength.

    1. Indeed, an eerie reversal of the 2018 Grace Road match I attended for three days in 2018:


      Middlesex is fielding an especially young & inexperienced side this season – something Leicestershire is more used to doing than Middlesex. Some of the young players are showing well, but so far the whole is a lot less than the sum of the promising parts. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory has become habit-forming this season; at least three “bankable” matches so far have turned to dust in the end.

      The experienced trio of Wright, Harris & Ackerman came good for your Leics boys. Didn’t those three used to produce pop songs for Kylie, Jason and the like, or am I getting confused again?

      1. Indeed; this is what “letting the kids play” is.

        That said, Ackerman hasn’t done a lot of coming good lately, and I don’t really know Harris. I’m much more interested in how Evans, Swindells and Mike do, and hope Azad stops getting ducks. I think the batting is brittle, but promising, but there’s very little bowling.

        I am experiencing something similar here with my Seattle Mariners and their putative batting wunderkind. Far too good for minor league baseball but really struggling in the show.

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