After a remarkable first full season in county cricket last year, it’s been a little bit of a case of second-season syndrome for Lancashire opener Haseeb Hameed.
The right-hander notched over 1100 runs in Division One in 2016 at an average of 49.91 including hitting four centuries. It was the kind of form that catapulted the youngster into England’s winter squad and he impressed on the international stage too.
In his six innings in India, Hameed hit two half-centuries and averaged over 40. His blossoming tour was only ended by a broken thumb. The expectation coming into the new season therefore was that Hameed would quickly become part of England’s plans again throughout the summer.
But the form of this season hasn’t come close to matching his exploits from last year. Hameed has managed just two half-centuries in the Championship and the first of those didn’t come until August. It was form that meant he was overlooked by England.
That first half-century came against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl and last week against Essex Hameed ground out one of the hardest-earned 50s of the season to help his Lancashire side recover from a perilous position against the Division One leaders.
There are signs therefore that form is returning and Hameed says he is starting to rediscover his feel.
“I do feel good at the crease right now,” the 20-year-old said during the Essex game.
“Hopefully with three games to come I can continue finding that rhythm.
“I was determined to score runs in whatever way possible. The longer you spend out there the easier it becomes.
“It’s continuing to learn about when it’s time to soak up pressure and what you need put pressure back on them. The more innings I play the more I am learning about that.”
As someone so young of course it is perhaps to be expected that a dip from the heights of last season should have occurred.
Despite the lack of runs, Hameed’s game has remained pretty consistent. He is not a batsman who scores at a great rate but his defensive game and ability to soak up pressure remains very much intact.
His 88 in the draw against Essex came from 250 balls and he batted throughout the second day, which was effectively the first after a day one washout, bringing up his half-century from 188 balls.
It was the ultimate showcase of resilience and determination in difficult conditions and was a glimpse at exactly why he received international honours in the first place.
Hameed believes his form has received more interest since his England involvement but is keen to trust in his own methods and technique.
“Conditions were difficult so after losing some early wickets it was important for one of us to dig in and get a few partnerships together,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve taken a lot of experience from this season that will hopefully help me for the rest of my career.
“Having played international cricket, more people have been happy to give advice and suggest different things. One of the things for me is to trust what I do and know there are people around me who understand my game.”
The upturn in form has reignited calls for Hameed to be involved with England again for the Ashes tour this winter, as Trevor Bayliss’ side continue to struggle to fill batting positions in the top five.
Hameed himself is firmly ignoring all of that talk and is determined to focus on the end of the season for Lancashire, who still retain an outside chance of chasing down Essex in the Division One title race.
“I’m not thinking about England at all. My focus is on the next day here, whatever that brings,” he added.
“The aim is to finish the season strongly for me and as a team in terms of where we are in the table and where we want to be at the end of the season.
“It would be great to go on that Ashes tour but there’s a process to achieving things and I have to perform and do what I do for Lancashire. I’m confident that will bring further honours again.”