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Haseeb Hameed keen for 'dream' Old Trafford return after dark days of Lancashire exit

Opener relishing chance to play Test on ground where he first came through as a teenager

George Dobell
George Dobell
08-Sep-2021
Haseeb Hameed was back on his old home ground, Old Trafford, September 8, 2021

Haseeb Hameed was back on his old home ground  •  Getty Images

Haseeb Hameed has admitted there were times he wondered if he would ever play a Test in front of his "boyhood crowd" at Emirates Old Trafford.
Haseeb developed through the Lancashire system and, after a bright start to his career, made his Test debut as a 19-year-old on the India tour of 2016. But after a prolonged slump in form, he was released by Lancashire at the end of the 2019 season.
Now, however, he is back in England's Test side. And after two half-centuries - and two century partnerships with fellow opener Rory Burns - in the last couple of games, he is set to make a memorable return to the ground in the fifth and final LV= Insurance Test starting on Friday.
"Growing up it is the dream for a young Lancashire player to play a Test here," Haseeb said ahead of England's training session in Manchester on Wednesday. "But obviously when you're going through difficult moments that seems a long way away. It's only natural to feel that way and wonder if it will happen.
"But I'm extremely grateful to be in this position where there is an opportunity to hopefully play in front of my local boyhood crowd and play in a Test match for England. I feel very lucky and privileged to be in this position."
Despite the disappointing manner in which his career at Lancashire ended, Hameed insisted he is relishing his return to the club and ground where he spent the formative years of his career.
"My memories of Lancashire are all positive," Haseeb said. "I started playing for the club at the age of nine and did so through to the age of 22.
"It was where I made my first-class debut and my maiden first-class century. I was part of a very strong age group team that won multiple national championships, so my memories here are very positive. I had a lot of success here.
"I've always said that the club holds a special place in my heart. And I don't want the last couple of years to overshadow what I feel like has been a good relationship and a good time at the club."
Haseeb also paid tribute his previous coach at Lancashire, Peter Moores, for helping him rediscover his form. It was Moores who recognised his potential and promoted him to the first-team squad as a 16-year-old. So when Moores, who had by then moved to Nottinghamshire, saw that Haseeb was out of contract at the end of 2019, he was keen to sign him.
"I knew Peter a little from our time at Lancashire," Haseeb said. "I hadn't worked with him extensively, but he was the first one that got me involved training with the pros when I was 16.
"Going to Notts was just the fresh start which I needed in a new environment. I walked in and the guys, the coaching staff and players alike up there were brilliant. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable very quickly. And we just got to work.
"Mooresy and myself just had a few conversations about where to head in terms of the work and we just set out a plan and tried to execute it."
And what went wrong towards the end of those years at Lancashire? "I feel like there's a number of reasons and there's not many reasons," he said. "It's an interesting one. The way I put it in my mind now is that it was something that was just part of the journey. I guess it was quite extreme in terms of the highs of India, then the lows were very low.
"It was just part of something that I had to experience. I guess there's a number of different reasons as to why that could be the case but it is not something I want to dwell on too much.
"I'm just happy to take the learnings from that and hopefully be confident that it will help me going forward and make me a better player and person for it."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo