Haseeb Hameed smiles when he's told that Alastair Cook described him, on the eve of his Test debut in the land of his forefathers, as 'unflappable'.

It is not an adjective commonly associated with teenagers, but then Hameed is no ordinary teen. While most 19-year-olds might prefer racier pastimes, Hameed likes nothing better than to bat - on and on and on.

After he spent six and a half hours saving Lancashire at Trent Bridge in July, England selector Mick Newell remarked: 'If Test cricket survives and thrives, then here's a boy who was born to open the batting. I just hope the game lasts long enough for him to play it.'

It seems even Newell - a man with a say in these matters - did not expect Hameed to be playing for his country quite so soon.


Speaking the evening before he became only the sixth teenager to win a Test cap for England, Hameed - whose father, Ismail, comes from the nearby village of Umraj - exuded a down-to-earth satisfaction that should stand in him good stead.

'It's a great feeling,' he said. 'A lot of things are meant to be. And the fact that it's here against India, in my parents' home state - the way it's fallen into place is amazing.'

So single-minded have he and his family been in pursuit of this moment that Haseeb even skipped his brother's wedding, a few hours away by car, over the weekend.

'Having spoken to my family, I thought it was better to stay here with the team and get used to conditions,' he said, without flinching.

As Newell observed, Hameed might have been designed with the five-day game in mind.

Unlike Ben Duckett, who has moved down to No 4 to accommodate him, he is more 20th century than 21st. Dot balls are part of the gameplan, not a sign of submission.

During this summer's County Championship, Hameed faced a staggering 3,071 deliveries - 201 more than his nearest top-flight rival, Durham's Keaton Jennings.

And the fact that he scored at the steady rate of 39 per 100 balls was neither here nor there. More relevant was an average of 49, a pair of hundreds in the Roses match against a high-class Yorkshire attack, and the inevitable attention of the national selectors.

Not that his approach, which has earned him the nickname 'Baby Boycs', is part of an attempt to cultivate a reputation. It's just what he does.

'I know a lot of guys have mentioned that, having watched me play,' he said. 'But it's the basics I've learned over the years. I've never really thought I want to be an old-fashioned or a text-book player, as such. It's just what's worked for me.

'One of the qualities that's been instilled in me from a young age is not to get too high or too low. Cricket is a very up-and-down game.

'You can be on top of the world one second, and it can bring you back down very quickly.

You've got to stay level-headed and take things in the short term, day by day, ball by ball.'

If it isn't a philosophy designed to set pulses racing, then stability at the top of the order is just what England crave. Hameed is Cook's 10th opening partner since the retirement of Andrew Strauss four years ago - a statistic that grows more damning with every addition.

But the hope is that Hameed's timeless virtues - his stillness at the crease, his feet together, his willingness to get forward - will sap the life from bowlers.
Even while he was spending his tour of Bangladesh in the nets, good judges liked what they saw.

When Courtney Walsh, the former West Indies quick who is now bowling coach of Bangladesh, first spied Hameed in Chittagong, he was struck by the technical similarities to Mike Atherton, another high-elbowed Lancastrian who wasn't afraid to take the shine off the new ball.

And Cook himself didn't hold back. 'Stuart Broad bowled at him last summer and was straight on the phone to me saying how impressed he was with this guy.

'I was nowhere near the player he was at 19. It's really exciting. Of course there are going to be some tough moments for him over the next few years in Test cricket, but this guy can play.'

Critics will argue that Hameed should have been blooded in Bangladesh, and they have a point. He would have had two Tests under his belt already before taking on the world's No 1 team, while Duckett would not now be switching roles so early in his own career.

But Hameed describes that experience as disappointing rather than frustrating, and says it gave him the chance to work on his game in Asian conditions.

And he's had plenty of practice. Hameed was only 13 when his father sent him to Mumbai - the spiritual home of Indian batting - for hours upon hours of nets on the local maidans.

His coach Vidya Paradkar recently told the Hindustan Times: 'He wouldn't throw his wicket away, which I liked the most. I wrote a message for him then, that if he continued working on his game, he would soon play for England.'

As Hameed learned, Mumbai cricketers treasure one quality above all others. They call it 'khadoos', meaning gritty and determined. It is a concept for which the English game may come to be grateful.