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When England returned from India at the end of 2016, it looked for all the world as if they had discovered a new opening batsman to serve them for a decade and more.

Haseeb Hameed had only played three Tests in that Test series before a broken finger ended his involvement. But so assured had the 19-year-old seemed, so accomplished had he appeared, it looked as if they had discovered Alastair Cook’s successor.

It was not to be. Returning to county cricket at the start of 2017, Hameed endured a horrid run of form. He had to wait until August to register a County Championship half-century and at one stage suffered four ducks in nine Championship innings. England couldn’t pick him.

The hope was the year would prove to be a blip. But it wasn’t. He averaged 9.70 in the 2018 Championship season and 28.41 in 2019. As much for his good as theirs, Lancashire released him ahead of 2020.

Nobody has yet been able to put their finger on what went wrong. There aren’t glaring technical flaws; there’s no lack of effort or obvious weakness. Some claim he wanted it too much. But they all do, really. Unless you’re committed, you won’t rise to the top. Those with simple answers tend to be those with simple minds.

But the story isn’t over. Signing for Nottinghamshire ahead of the 2020 season – he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last to be charmed by their head coach Peter Moores – Hameed enjoyed a steady if unspectacular return to form. Thursday gave us, perhaps, the next step in his rehabilitation, with the announcement that he had signed a contract extension securing his future at Nottinghamshire until at least the end of 2022.

Some caution is required here: Hameed averaged 38.85 in 2020. There were three half-centuries in seven innings. That’s pretty good, but there were no centuries and he averaged about half what his opening partner, Ben Slater, did and about 20 fewer than another top-order player on that India tour, Ben Duckett. Talk of an England recall is premature.

ALSO READ: Notts move lays foundation for Hameed to reinvigorate his faltering career

Still, it is heartening to see him heading in the right direction, and to see him smiling as he talks about his cricket. He’s still only 23. It’s not unreasonable to think there could be brighter days ahead.

As he spoke on Thursday, it became clear how tough some aspects of the last few years have been and, as a consequence, what an achievement it is to return to a position where he is consistently scoring runs.

“I didn’t give it too much thought,” he replied when asked whether he considered leaving the game entirely. “Of course when you’re going through a tough phase there are a lot of different voices in your head. You go through that bit of difficult period. You get a number of different thoughts of walking away from the game. I’d say it was very tough. To have had the success I’ve had, to then have what followed… it hit quite hard.”

“Look at those who have achieved great things in life and in sports: these things don’t happen without setbacks and real slumps”

Haseeb Hameed is confident that he can revive his England career

There were hints, too, of what may have helped turn things around. Instead of concentrating on run-scoring, for example, Moores has him focused upon enjoyment. And instead of conversations about what he needed to do, teammates discussed his successes of the past.

“The Notts players appreciated this was a new chapter for me,” he said. “And they appreciated you don’t want to dwell on what happened. It was starting afresh. So we’ve just talked about good memories: I was able to score a few runs against Notts in red and white-ball cricket at Trent Bridge. Having those sort of conversations does help. And they signed me as a player. You can take confidence from that.

“Cricket is fun again. That became quite a focus: enjoying batting again, enjoying being with my team mates and all those different things. This environment is brilliant for that. It’s a lovely mix of younger lads who are extremely talented ambitious – Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett, Tom Moores and Zak Chappell – and extremely talented. To have that mix with the older guys who have been around the club for a long time is brilliant.”

It’s interesting to note, too, that Moores, once derided for his obsession with data, is now credited with uncluttering Hameed’s mind.

“Peter is a big believer in there being an information overload now,” Hameed said. “It’s easy to look at other players and think you’ve got to do this or that. But the key message from Mooresy is: trust your game. Make refinements, yes, but not wholesale changes.

“For me right now, it’s less about being so methodical and so watchful. It’s more about letting my game flow and enjoying the art of batting. It’s a case of not getting too caught up in almost survival. Yes, at the top of the order you do need a strong defence. But at the end of the day the game is about scoring runs and there is no point spending 100 balls at the crease to score 10 runs and then getting a good ball or a bad decision, and you’re out.”

Most of all, though, the whole episode speaks of a resilience within Hameed. There are no guarantees that he’ll ever recapture the spirit of that 19-year-old with the broken finger in Mohali. But there’s something admirable in the way he’s fought through the bad times. You’d need a heart of stone not to wish him well.

“I still look at myself as quite a young man within the game,” he said. “I look at it as something that can propel me to achieve greater things.

“One thing I’ve prided myself on from a young age is my best years were after my worst years. As a 15-year-old I won the player of year trophy at Lancashire and three awards at the Bunbury festival and then selection in the England development programme came after a year, when 14, I had the worst year of junior career.

“Then I look at not being selected for the U-19 World Cup and, a year later, going to Bangladesh in the senior team. That stuck with me. That tells me I’ve something deep down that won’t let me stop. Of course you have doubts. But that’s when you need something within you, deep down, to stop you giving in and try one more time. That mental resilience has been quite good for me.

“Look at those who have achieved great things in life and in sports: these things don’t happen without setbacks and real slumps. The ones that achieve more are the ones who have had the biggest slumps and bigger downfalls. To say those four years have been easy wouldn’t be true. It was very difficult.

“But I still want to push. I’m still clear what I want to achieve and I still have the confidence I will get there.”

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Eng vs NZ 2021 – ‘Players have got to show desperation and earn the right to stay in the side’



Graham Thorpe, England’s assistant coach, has called on his team’s young batters to prove their “desperation” to stay in the Test team, after New Zealand’s eight-wicket win at Edgbaston on Sunday completed their first series victory in this country since 1999, and England’s first loss on home soil in seven years.

Thorpe, who was a part of the England team that slumped to the bottom of the unofficial world rankings with their 2-1 series loss in 1999, said that he hoped this defeat would spur a similar quest for higher standards among the class of 2021, after he himself played a central role in the Nasser Hussain-led team that went on to win four series in a row in 2000-01, including their first against West Indies in 32 years.

But, Thorpe warned, while today’s selectors were far more tolerant of short-term failure than they were at the start of his own career in 1993, the management would need to see evidence of greater mental application than was the case in the past two Test matches. That was particularly the case in the second innings at Edgbaston, where England slumped to 76 for 6 and ultimately 122 all out.

“We have some younger players in our team who are still developing and we’re wanting them to improve,” Thorpe said. “But sometimes the intensity and the spotlight of Test cricket, when you’re up against a good team like New Zealand, just highlights how much of a challenge our players found their decision-making and the execution of shots.

“Whatever technique you have, the basics are still the same,” he added. “You have to get in, you have to be positive in your defence, leave the ball well outside off stump and play straight. These are the things that have applied to batting in Test match cricket for as long as it has been going.

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England vs India women’s Test 2021 – Harmanpreet Kaur: ‘We may not have much practice, but mentally we’re prepared’ | Cricket





‘Because of the struggles of past Indian women’s cricketers, we have this opportunity’ – Harmanpreet Kaur

Harmanpreet Kaur believes that a lack of adequate game time in the longest format in the lead-up to India Women’s return to Test cricket after nearly seven years can be offset in some measure by cultivating a positive outlook and heeding advice received from Ajinkya Rahane.

“I’ve played only two red-ball matches [in international cricket]. As a batting group when we have a discussion… this time we got a chance to speak to Rahane as well,” Kaur, the India Test vice-captain, said of her “easy and friendly talk” with her male counterpart in Southampton, where both the Indian teams served a hard quarantine upon arriving in the UK on June 3. “He shared his knowledge with us as to how to approach batting in the longest format and how one should divide their innings into parts.

“We may not have much practice under our belt [going into the Test], but mentally [we are prepared]. We’ve discussed a lot of things so we prepare ourselves well for the match. Even in the nets, we’ve tried to be in a good frame of mind because when you are happy, other than thinking too much about your batting, you tend to play well.”

The women’s team arrived in Bristol on Monday for the one-off Test against hosts England that begins on Wednesday. The opening fixture of a seven-match multi-format assignment, the Test marks India’s first outing in the format since the one-off Test at home against South Africa in November 2014. On the domestic circuit, the last multi-day women’s competition – the Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Three-Day Game – was held in March-April 2018, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Kaur admitted that inadequate preparedness heading into the tour wasn’t ideal, but welcomed the revival of Test cricket for her team.

“Whatever time we’ve got [since coming out of quarantine], we’ve tried to simulate match scenarios as much as possible and tried to keep ourselves in the best frame of mind,” Kaur said. “We didn’t get much time to prepare, or any practice games. Individually, it’s imperative to adapt to the situation.

“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17″

Harmanpreet Kaur is all for letting Shafali Verma develop her own way

“The surfaces are different to what we get in India. We’ve practised against the swinging ball in the nets. We have a further two days – today and tomorrow – to prepare ourselves better for the match, so I hope we’ll be able to do that well.

“It’s a totally different scenario [to playing with the white ball]. I know we didn’t even get any domestic games with the red ball. In the upcoming season and years we’ll get more red-ball cricket also, which is a very good sign for us.”

As with Tests in the Women’s Ashes, the Bristol Test will feature the use of the Kookaburra red ball (the Dukes ball is usually used in England), with England captain Heather Knight saying last week that “we’re going to be using a Kookaburra in this match because that’s what we’re going to be using in the Ashes and it’s no secret this Test match is a huge part of our preparation going into that Ashes series and that Ashes Test match away from home.”

Kaur said that in the practice sessions India have had so far, the Kookaburra didn’t pose much challenge.

“Dealing with a Kookaburra didn’t feel too different because the ball size and weight is roughly the same [as the white ball we use in limited-overs cricket]. The last time we played [a Test], we felt the red ball was a bit heavier than the white variant, which makes you rely on your timing more. But the Kookaburra white and red ball feels the same; just the colour is different. We felt good playing with it because when you’re in whites and you play with the red ball, it’s a totally different feeling.”

When asked about the likelihood of 17-year-old big-hitter Shafali Verma making her debut on Wednesday, Kaur stressed that it was important for the senior players and the team management to refrain from talking shop too much with the young batter.

“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17 years old,” Kaur said. “To burden her with too many thoughts isn’t the right thing.

“All of us try to create a good environment for her to be able to feel less pressured and be able to enjoy her cricket well. She was looking great in the nets, and I hope if she gets a chance to play she’ll do better.”

As regards Jhulan Goswami, the senior-most bowler in the Indian attack, Kaur was hopeful that the 38-year-old pacer would replicate in this Test the consistency and success that’s been a hallmark of her nearly two-decade-long international career.

“She is someone who always takes the lead whenever we’re on the field,” Kaur said. “She’s always [been] special for us because her quota [of overs] is [important]. She will always give us breakthroughs whenever we need. Not only her but all the bowlers are very important because in Test matches you need breakthroughs, and I think she will be fantastic in this match also.”

The tour of England is also returning head coach Ramesh Powar‘s first assignment since replacing WV Raman in the role last month. Kaur, who is also India’s T20I captain, said her interactions with Powar on the ongoing tour had been no different to those during his first stint in the position which ended with the 2018 T20 World Cup, following a high-profile controversy involving himself, ODI captain Mithali Raj, Kaur, T20I vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, and several members of the now-defunct Committee of Administrators that was overseeing the BCCI.

“My interactions with him have been the same [as before]. He is someone who’s involved in the game all the time and expects the same of the players. Whenever you speak to him, you feel like you’re in a match. He asks you to imagine yourself in a match situation and figure out how you would react to it.

“I get a lot of information speaking to him because he, too, has played a lot of cricket, including T20 cricket. So the experience is the same. Whatever we had done in 2018, we are repeating those things now as well.”

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Ind vs NZ – WTC winners to take home USD 1.6 million as well as Test Championship mace




Runners-up to get USD 800,000; the teams will split the prize money in case there isn’t a result

The winners of the India vs New Zealand World Test Championship (WTC) final will take home USD 1.6 million, as well as the Test Championship Mace, while the losing team will get USD 800,000, the ICC has announced. In case there is a stalemate, or weather prevents a winner from being identified despite the reserve day, the two teams will split the total prize money of USD 2.4 million.

It will be the first time the sport will have official world champions in the format. “It (the WTC) has come to symbolise the best team in Test cricket, and with the Test championship now being used as the vehicle to identify the best team in Test cricket, the mace is on offer,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC chief executive, said in an interaction with members of the media.

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