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Thursday, 23 April 2015
Star cricketer Haseeb Hameed joined the England U19s Cricket squad in travelling to Western Australia to face the Australia U19s over the Easter holidays. The month-long trip involved a two-day warm-up match, a four-day Test match played at the W.A.C.A. Ground, and five one day international (ODI) 50-over matches. Haseeb’s inclusion in the international youth squad follows him signing his first professional contract with Lancashire Cricket Club, where he hopes to make his debut for the First team very soon.
The England U19s fared well in their opening two-day warm-up against Western Australia XI. Playing at the Murdoch University ground, the England boys dominated play to win the match.
They therefore went into the four-day Test match feeling confident, and excited to play at this landmark Test venue. It was also in the Test match that Haseeb’s skills really came to the fore. The Australia U19s took a first-innings lead of 283 over the course of the first two days, with England finishing the first day eleven for four. However, on the third day, the England boys pulled it back with three players scoring half-centuries, and Haseeb was the top scorer of the day with an impressive score of 91 not out from 256 balls. His anchor role in the match earned him the nickname ‘The Wall’ among his teammates, after steadfast former India batsman Rahul Dravid.
Head of the England Development Programme Andy Hurry was pleased with Haseeb’s performance: “Hameed showed incredible inner drive, batting for five and a half hours, building valuable partnerships with Weatherley, Taylor and Davies.”
Unfortunately, rain stopped play on the fourth and final day of the Test match, washing away the England team’s hard-won hopes of a narrow victory, and resulting in a draw. Haseeb was therefore unable to go on to score his full century. Haseeb said, “It would have been nice to get a hundred but I’m pleased with the contribution that I made. I knew we had to really dig deep and I had to be patient and quite disciplined in the way I played.”
Following their impressive recovery in the Test match, the England U19s’ spirits were high as they moved on to the five-match ODI series.
Two 50-overs matches were played in the sea-side city of Bunbury. The England team did well in a tightly contested first match, winning by two wickets. However, the second match at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School was even tougher; Haseeb made ten, but was unlucky to be caught behind before he could better his score, and this was the case with several of the England players. The second match was therefore conceded to the hosts, who won by eight wickets
There was another change of venue for the final three ODI 50-overs matches: the England and Australia U19s teams faced each other at the Murdoch University ground. Unfortunately, in the first match an early dismissal for Haseeb and some of his teammates made for a difficult game. The match went right down to the wire, but ultimately resulted in a three wicket win for the Australians. The second ODI match at Murdoch University was similarly tough for the England U19s, and unfortunately the Australian team pulled away with a seven wicket win to clinch the series. However, the England squad was undaunted and refused to give up even though the series was lost. In their final match in Australia, they fought back and managed to come away with a win by 82 runs.
Although a final scoreline of 3-2 over the five-day series was not a win for the England U19s, it was nonetheless a respectable result for the group, particularly when most of the boys on the squad, Haseeb included, still have another year to go on the U19s programme.
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