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Kohli praise caps Hameed’s ‘awesome’ rise

CricketKohli praise caps Hameed's 'awesome' rise


They say it is best to never meet your heroes, but Haseeb Hameed may well disagree.

The night before this series, he spoke with wide-eyed wonder about how “amazing” it would be to meet Virat Kohli. He was one of his cricketing heroes and the thought of playing against him was clearly a thrill.

Now he has not just met him, but won his respect. For while the relationship between these teams is not especially good – they came into the series with baggage from 2014, in particular – it was noticeable that Kohli not only applauded Hameed upon reaching his half-century in Mohali, but ran up to shake him by the hand at the end of his innings.

He had, to his great credit, recognised not only an innings of class and bravery, but perhaps something of a kindred spirit, too: this was one fine batsmen acknowledging another, albeit one who has achieved little by comparison at this stage of his career. It is a moment that is likely to console Hameed long after he has made the journey home to have surgery on his left hand.

“He’s showed great character for a 19-year-old,” Kohli said. “He put his hand up when his team wanted him to do it and the way he played with Anderson showed great maturity. You can sense it as a captain: this guy is intelligent, this guy knows the game.

Haseeb Hameed changed his technique to bat with a broken finger in England's second innings© AFP
Haseeb Hameed changed his technique to bat with a broken finger in England’s second innings © AFP

“He’s a great prospect for England. He’s definitely going to be a future star in all forms if he keeps persisting with his skill. I’m really impressed and that’s why I patted him on the back. It was an innings full of character and something that you need to applaud.

It may be relevant that Hameed, unlike some of the other players involved in this match, let his cricket do the talking and therefore hasn’t irked the opposition. He doesn’t feel the need to posture or pose; he doesn’t feel the need to give opposition players a send-off when they’re out or give them abuse when he is fielding.

Any thought that such behaviour equates to strong or brave cricket should have been banished years ago. Hameed has reminded us that you can be gutsy and determined without denigrating the opposition. And, both with his batting and his demeanour, he might have reminded one or two how this game could, and should, be played.

There were many impressive aspects of this innings. There was the range of strokes – including a delicious late cut, a slog-sweep for six and a front-foot hook – that showed he had been playing within himself in previous innings and hinted at an ability that could well feed into white-ball cricket. There was the sight of Hameed going to meet his new partner – James Anderson, a man with 118 more Tests than him – to offer some advice and encouragement and there was his ability to rotate the strike so effectively that Anderson only faced 11 out of the 40 balls they batted together.

But perhaps the most impressive feature of this innings was his ability to adapt to the physical imposition he faced and the bravery to attempt to do so.

“To change the way you play to combat [an injury] … There’s a lot of guys in there in awe of what he’s been through”

Hameed batted three times in the nets on Monday. The first two times were unsuccessful: the pain was such that he could hardly hold the bat, far less control it. It seemed he would bat only in an emergency and perhaps at No. 11. But then he experimented with a different grip where he was able to take his little finger off the bat. And, after some practice in the nets, reported that he was happy with the new technique.

So, as a 19-year-old in his third Test, he not only went out to bat with such a badly damaged finger that he knew it required surgery, but he did so with a makeshift grip. And then he played England’s best innings of the match. It was hardly surprising that Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, described the team as “in awe” of their young colleague.

“It’s a hell of a skill to have,” Bayliss said. “To change the way you play to combat that. A couple of headache tablets and out he went. It is a lesson for others. There’s a lot of guys in there in awe of what he’s been through. The lack of showing any pain, and guts and determination is a good sign. There’s plenty of other guys who have got hit and make a big song and dance about it. Obviously he’s got a big pain threshold.”


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