Haseeb Hameed had an impressive debut series against India but had to back out due to an injury    AFP
Haseeb Hameed had an impressive debut series against India but had to back out due to an injury AFP

England pace spearhead James Anderson says 20-year-old Haseeb Hameed, who made an impressive Test debut in India late last year, is a better opening batsman than Alastair Cook. Anderson, who narrowly missed out on having a duel in the County Championship with Cook due to an injury to the latter, says Hameed is a more technically sound batsman. Hameed seemed to have solved the opening woes for England when he impressed one and all with his splendid batting on the tour of India, before bowing out of the series due to a fractured finger. Hameed had travelled back to England for a surgery and returned to India to support his team.

Anderson told ESPNCricinfo, “Is he as talented a player as I’ve seen come into the England side? I’d say so. He’s right up there. I know Cookie is the leading run scorer but I’d say he is a better more technically sound opening batsman that Cook. I played with him at Lancashire last year and you see teams throwing everything at him: short balls; around the wicket; everything. And he seemed to cope with everything that was thrown at him. From an opening bowler’s point of view when you are sat in the dressing room and your opening batter has that calm way about him it just settles the whole dressing room.

“Bowling at him in the nets, he’s so up to opening the batting, the way he plays it late, leaves the ball. I don’t want to talk him up too much, but I think he’s just a very exciting talent. And he has the temperament and concentration of Cook in bucket-loads. That mindset will stand him in good stead, Anderson continued.

Anderson said Hameed has a good head on those shoulders, which would help him to negate what Australia will throw at him in the Ashes Down Under later this year. “I’m sure Australia will throw everything they’ve got at him. Pace, short balls, aggression, verbals. I’m sure they’ll go at him. They usually pick on the young guys. But with his calm nature, I think he’ll be able to handle it. He’s such a calm, level-headed lad I don’t think he’ll need much help. He’s very switched on for his age. He’s got a good solid family behind him that help him a lot. He’s got all the attributes to be able to cope with anything that’s thrown at him. His ability and his talent is frightening for such a young lad, so I think he’ll cope with anything, Anderson said.

Anderson was looking forward to bowling at Cook before a hip injury ruled out the former England captain from the opening round of County Championship matches. It would have been the fifth time the pair have come against one another in the Championship and Anderson has had much the better of their encounters. On the most recent occasion, in 2015, he trapped Cook leg before for 1 in the third over of the match, while in the previous game, in 2010, it took him until the fifth over of the match to dismiss him for 3. And while Cook made a second-innings half-century, it could not prevent Lancashire winning by eight wickets and Anderson finishing with nine in the match.