Haseeb Hameed: A great debut restricted by an unfortunate injury
With his unsparing concentration and defiant attitude against all rigours, the then 19-year-old, slender-bodied boy from Lancashire, displayed a great act of batsmanship to tackle the spin-duo of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who have proved themselves pretty much unbeatable in such conditions.
Hameed's footwork was decisive against Ashwin and Jadeja. In the five-match series, Hameed could play just three before suffering from a finger injury on the left hand, but still managed to average 43.80 in six innings which included two half-centuries; the second fifty came in search of a rescue for his team, when he came to bat at number 8 with a severely injured little finger and stayed on the crease for nearly three hours to score unbeaten 59.
This act of him left his teammates in awe of derring-do. The injury was so critical that coach Trevor Bayliss described it as being in "two pieces".
A great debut series met with England's long-suffering opening slot since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, private discourse with the giants like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli; the whole world was on feet for the "Baby Boycott", an admiration earned by Hameed even before making his international debut.
Things were supposed to be the dawn of a stately career ahead, and the expiration of England's tracking for Alastair Cook's partner but it could not pile up at all. Hameed's return to first-class cricket after nursing his injury brought a horrible phase of batting form for him.
Bland comeback after an injury break
One would be terribly shocked to know that his combined average since the above mentioned period has been just 18.58 in 52 FC innings. After recuperating from injury, Hameed toured Sri Lanka with the England Lions but could only manage to score just 33 runs in the four outings to enter into a hard time.
In the following County season, in 2017, he amassed 522 runs in 14 matches with an unacceptable average of just 26.10, registering a fifty-plus score only thrice in 24 attempts. Hameed was not bypassed by the ECB after the barren show in 2017 but instead was sent to the Caribbean with the England Lions, but Hameed's poor form did not switch as he returned with just 167 runs in 6 innings at 27.83; 48 being his highest score.
Things were yet to visit the worst as his form deteriorated to such an extent that his average in the County Championship 2018 read a contemptible 9.44 in 18 innings off the eleven matches, with the highest score of just 31.
Dropped from playing eleven!
In turn of it, Hameed was dropped from Lancashire side for the last three championship games, with the Director of Lancashire Cricket, Paul Allott, calling his prolonged ill-form a "complete and utter mystery".
Paul Allott was alright about saying so when you know Haseeb Hameed as someone who broke into the scene, being deemed as the most up-and-coming batsman in a very long time in English Cricket, someone who scored 1198 runs at 49.91 apiece with four hundreds and seven fifties in his first full stint in county cricket, someone who became first English opener to make a half-century on debut since Alastair Cook in 2006, someone who became third youngest man and second youngest opener to score a half-century in Tests for England, someone who became the first Lancashire opener since Michael Atherton to represent England.
Now, Haseeb Hameed is close to being 22. He is still in an age where most of the players would be dreaming of debuting, but he has already experienced a tough lesson. Things are tentative for him going ahead as he has been dropped not only from his county side but also from the England Lions squad scheduled to tour India in later this month.
To his respite, with Alastair Cook already retired and Strauss' place still up for grabs, there are two open vacancies available in the English Test XI. Hameed now needs to go to basics and work hard to get his name back in the mentions.
Best of luck, Mr Haseeb Hameed!