Haseeb Hameed has reaffirmed his aim to regain his spot in England’s Test side, but is focused solely on Lancashire’s success in the closing weeks of the season.
The 20-year-old scored a second-innings 77* against Hampshire, a match that ended in a draw after the final two days were lost to bad weather – his side take eight points while the hosts take nine, leaving both 41 points behind Division One leaders Essex.
It was his first half-century since his knock in Mohali during the winter tour of India, in which he broke the little finger on his left hand.
Despite continued talk over who will partner Alastair Cook in this winter’s Ashes, and chairman of selectors James Whitaker being in attendance for his Southampton innings, Hameed is keeping his goals grounded.
“I think I’m just focused on trying to perform well for Lancashire right now,” he said, “At the same time I’m hopeful and confident that if I can do that for Lancashire then further honours will come, but there’s a process for getting there.
“Everyone wants to play for England and that’s definitely my ambition and aim to get back there as soon as possible, [but] there’s a process and for me it’s about scoring runs for Lancashire now and hopefully that call will come.
His innings here was exactly what those who watched him last season would expect: unhindered by scoreboard pressure, assured in defence, controlled in rare moments of attack.
Coming into 2017, Hameed had expressed a desire to play all three formats – he played all of Lancashire’s Royal London One-Day Cup matches, with two fifties.
This was, however, his first foray into a shorter format at Old Trafford and despite a concurrent dip in four-day form, he is hesitant to place blame on the transition.
He said: “It would be quite easy for me to say that, because last year I didn’t play white-ball cricket and then this year I played 50 over stuff, and I’ve not done as well in four day. Maybe there’s a correlation.
“But it’s important moving forwards that I continue to develop and learn. It is challenging changing formats, although my game doesn’t change too much for white ball, it does require me to take more risks and adjust.
“I think I was quite determined to put what’s happened in the last few months to one side and approach it as a season of two halves, because I’ve had a three week gap; the opportunity to go away and work on my game and approach this half of the season positively.
“It was nice to get that confidence and that feeling of having scored runs again. That’s the main thing. When you haven’t tasted success for a while sometimes you can get a little bit more uncomfortable. Scoring runs is a way of getting that confidence back.
“Hopefully I can look back on the last few months and say ‘you know what, this is what made me a better player than if things had just gone my way from the word go’.”
Having not played in the Natwest T20 Blast, Hameed has been afforded a short break from first team cricket, playing for Formby CC in Liverpool and scoring a century for the second XI two weeks ago.
And, on Friday, he took part in an England net session with batting coach Mark Ramprakash, which he says was very helpful ahead of the Hampshire trip.
“Ramps is very confident in me, understanding and knowing my game. He doesn’t try to tinker with it too much. I’m sure that if there is something he thinks will benefit me, then he will tell me.
“In that instance there was nothing he told me. If anything, he was just reassuring me and giving me the confidence that my game is in a good place so I can approach this game with confidence.”