Haseeb Hameed: I will never lose the ambition to play for England

Haseeb Hameed will always harbour aspirations of resuming his England career but he is for now ignoring outside distractions as he prepares to captain Nottinghamshire this season.

Already Nottinghamshire’s 50-over skipper, Hameed was named the successor to Steven Mullaney in the off-season for their Vitality County Championship campaign, starting with the visit of Essex on Friday.

While he believes he has time on his side to add to his 10 Test caps, the last of which came two years ago, the 27-year-old is channelling all his energies into Nottinghamshire’s Division One campaign.

“The focus for me is Notts but that doesn’t mean I’ve not got ambitions to play for England again,” he told the PA news agency. “As long as I’m playing, I’ll never lose the ambition to play for England.”

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Hameed first opened the batting for England aged 19 and earned glowing reviews for a measured approach and tight technique in three Tests in India, but injuries and a drastic drop in form prompted a change of counties in 2020 as he swapped Lancashire for Nottinghamshire, breathing fresh life into his career.

He played seven more Tests between August 2021 and January 2022 but, while there were a couple of promising showings against India at home, he was part of the collateral after a humbling 2021-22 Ashes.

“I’d played 10 Test matches by the age of 24 – all of them were against India and Australia and seven of them in their backyard, I don’t think it will get too much tougher than that,” he said.

“Those experiences were invaluable to me and I’m still edging towards the prime of my career. Hopefully, a number of years of that can be in an England shirt.

“I’ve been playing for nine years now and I feel like I’ve had so many different experiences that I’ve learnt from, I’d like to think I’m a better player for it. I’m definitely keen to keep improving, too.”

Hameed's introduction to Test cricket was a baptism of fire
Hameed’s introduction to Test cricket was a baptism of fire (Jason O’Brien/PA)

England’s much-discussed approach under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum in the last couple of years might seem at odds with a batter who was once recognised as ‘Baby Boycott’.

While Hameed has previously committed to embracing the new philosophy, he believes ‘Bazball’ has been widely misinterpreted.

“I’ve been in England Lions environments, I’ve sat in meetings where Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes have spoken and they were clear that when it’s necessary, it’s about absorbing pressure,” Hameed added.

“But then it’s about having the confidence to put pressure back on them whenever the opportunity is there. People look at the second part and don’t acknowledge the first part. That’s not lost on me.”

England's Josh Tongue joined Nottinghamshire over the winter
England’s Josh Tongue joined Nottinghamshire over the winter (Mike Egerton/PA)

With Stuart Broad’s retirement and the departures of club stalwarts Samit Patel and Jake Ball in the winter, there is a feeling of a new dawn at Nottinghamshire – who have signed England fast bowler Josh Tongue, plus promising pair Dillon Pennington and Jack Haynes from Worcestershire.

“I’m just looking for players to play with confidence and back their strengths, knowing I’ve got their back,” Hameed added.

“We’ve lost some big, senior players but as big as those losses are, it opens up opportunities for different people to step into that space and mark their mark.

“I’m going to learn a lot on the job. I’m fresh to this kind of role even though I’ve been captain in the past. I’ve had a little bit of experience but getting a full-time role at this level is new to me.”