Haseeb Hameed, England’s 19-year-old opener, has seen his tour of India ended by the broken finger sustained during the eight-wicket but will fly home with his team-mates in awe and the praise of his captain, his coach and his idol ringing in his ears following an innings of remarkable courage and skill.
As the right-hander was repelling India’s bowlers for just shy of three hours from No8 with an unbeaten 59 on the fourth day of the match – one that ended with Alastair Cook’s going 2-0 down in the series with two Tests to play – the results of an overnight scan were returned to the medical staff. They showed the blow inflicted by the fast bowler Umesh Yadav on the first morning had broken his little finger in two.
Hameed requires a metal plate in the digit and will be replaced by a batsman from outside the squad for the fourth Test in Mumbai from 8 December with the openers Nick Gubbins and Keaton Jennings, and the middle-order batsman Sam Billings, who are in Dubai with the Lions, among the candidates.
said after the defeat, in which India knocked off 104 to win in 20.2 overs after England’s 236 all out, that Hameed had pleaded with him to remain on tour to finish the series. While that request was denied, the England coach spoke in glowing terms of the Lancashire opener for both the way he batted, with only two paracetamol tablets numbing the pain, and the skill in changing his technique to make sure his little finger did not remain on the bat handle.
“He has obviously got a high pain threshold,” said Bayliss, who claimed the origin of the break may have been a similar blow suffered during the second Test. “If you’d have seen him in the changing room though, you wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong. It’s a great sign and the sort of attitude you want. He wants to stay and play the last two Tests. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and even his old man said: ‘Just tape it up, he’ll be all right.’
“[While England were fielding on the third day] he went over to net three times and the first two times weren’t too successful. He was working out a way with his little finger off the bat and once he did, he was quite comfortable. It’s a hell of a skill to have, to change the way you play to combat that.
“There’s plenty of other guys who have got hit and make a big song and dance about it. I think there’s a lot of guys in the team in awe of what he’s been through. The lack of showing any pain and the guts and determination is a good sign. We’ll make sure he gets back and gets it done so he’s right to go early next season.”
Cook, who will have another new opening partner in Mumbai, described Hameed’s rearguard as a “very special knock” and one that deserves the respect of the team. His opposite number, Virat Kolhi, was Hameed’s hero growing up as a young cricketer at home in Bolton and went out of his way to shake the teenager’s hand at the end of the innings in a Test that otherwise featured plenty of animosity between the sides.
“I wish him a speedy recovery,” said Kolhi, the only batsman on either side to face more deliveries than Hameed’s 640 during the series. “He put his hand up when his team wanted him to do it. You can sense it as a captain, this guy is intelligent. I think he’s a great prospect for England and he’s definitely going to be a star in all forms if he keeps persisting with his skill. That’s why I patted him on the back: it was an innings of character and something you need to applaud.”
Hameed’s breakthrough tour, one that saw him selected following a county summer that brought 1,189 County Championship runs, was not isolated to the 156 balls of defiance during England’s second innings in Mohali, with his average of 43.8 inking him in to resume his Test career against South Africa in July.
Beyond the numbers was the temperament shown batting at the highest level, displaying diligent judgment of line and length as well as different gears depending on the situation.
in the second innings which saw him strike the spinner Ravi Jadeja for six in a situation in which the pressure could easily have got to other debutants.
In the his second innings rearguard of 25 over 144 balls was ended only by a shooting delivery from Ravi Ashwin into the base of his pads that trapped him lbw. In Mohali he marshalled the tail to at least give England’s attack something to bowl at. Having waited for 110 balls before striking his first boundary, the pick of the shots came when the seamer Mohammed Shami was hooked behind square off the front foot.
The six mown off Ashwin to bring up his half-century saw him become England’s first teenager to score two half-centuries in Test cricket and with it his international future, once the small matter of having a metal plate put in his finger, looks incredibly bright.