Haseeb Hameed is excited to play his first Test in front of his "boyhood crowd" at Emirates Old Trafford. The stylish right-hander came through the Lancashire system and made his Test debut in India in 2016 at the age of 19.
Hameed impressed eveyone during the series, but was released by Lancashire in 2019 after a prolonged slump in form. He then moved to Nottinghamshire, rebuilt his career, and is now back in the England Test set-up.
"Growing up it is the dream for a young Lancashire player to play a Test here. But obviously when you're going through difficult moments that seems a long way away. It's only natural to feel that way and wonder if it will happen." Haseeb said ahead of England's training session in Manchester.
"But I'm extremely grateful to be in this position where there is an opportunity to hopefully play in front of my local boyhood crowd and play in a Test match for England. I feel very lucky and privileged to be in this position.
"My memories of Lancashire are all positive. I started playing for the club at the age of nine and did so through to the age of 22. It was where I made my first-class debut and my maiden first-class century. I was part of a very strong age group team that won multiple national championships, so my memories here are very positive. I had a lot of success here.
"I've always said that the club holds a special place in my heart. And I don't want the last couple of years to overshadow what I feel like has been a good relationship and a good time at the club."
Talking about what went wrong at Lancashire, Hameed said: "I feel like there's a number of reasons and there's not many reasons. It's an interesting one. The way I put it in my mind now is that it was something that was just part of the journey. I guess it was quite extreme in terms of the highs of India, then the lows were very low.
"It was just part of something that I had to experience. I guess there's a number of different reasons as to why that could be the case but it is not something I want to dwell on too much. I'm just happy to take the learnings from that and hopefully be confident that it will help me going forward and make me a better player and person for it."
The 24-year-old was asked to bat at No. 3 in his comeback Test at Lord's and could only manage nine runs in two innings. In fact, he was dismissed for a duck in his first innings. Hameed was promoted up the order in the next Test and the right-hander crafted 68 off 195 deliveries. He was also impressive in the third Test, managing a score of 63 in the second innings.
India are currently leading the five-match series 2-1, with the fifth and final Test set to start on Friday (September 10).