“The World Cup is my aim. To be part of that and to represent your country is brilliant.”
It’s not often a series against Australia feels like a dress rehearsal, but for England, and Hamza Shaikh, there’s plenty at stake this winter.
The Young Lions, who start a two-Test series in Worcester today, have encountered a closely-fought five ODI series split between Beckenham and Hove, where their fresh talent was tested to the max.
That environment should stand England in good stead as the two-year international cycle builds up to another Men’s U19s Cricket World Cup with a tour to India.
Jacob Bethell shone in the last World Cup in 2022 as England were losing finalists to India, and Hamza is determined to be on the plane for both.
“I hope I’ll be in for the India tour, but I can’t say anything too soon,” said Hamza. “I want to be part of that experience and see where I am, at my age, compared to the rest of the world. I feel I’m up there and I just want to win games of cricket.”
Shaikh, just 17, has taken centre stage for his country this summer, whilst harnessing a new role in the middle order.
Having represented, and impressed, for the Midlands side in this year’s ECB Super 4s tournament, the right-hander has gone one step further on the international stage.
In those five ODIs, Hamza was the top scorer across both teams, had the third-highest average, and scored the most boundaries.
“I’ve come in, got to know the lads and the coaches, and I’ve settled quite quickly,” added the Knowle and Dorridge product. “I’ve been batting four, when I usually open or bat three but I’m enjoying it. I got 30 in the first game and the coaches were impressed with how I went about it and tried to manage the innings. It didn’t seem a lot, but I felt in good nick, and that gave me the confidence to kick on.
“Australia have a pretty good attack too, so scoring hasn’t been easy, but I’ve enjoyed the role I’ve carved for myself. Coming in at four, I feel things can happen quite quickly around you, such as wickets or someone trying to go big, so I’ve tried to take the sting out of the innings and build something.
“The coaches like how I’m controlling the game, especially when I face spin and they’ve been a big help. Jeetan Patel, Andrew Flintott and Graeme Swann have all offered advice and that’s benefitted my game. I’m intrigued by how they went about theirs and I want to implement it in mine.
“I’m confident that the white ball will help my red ball. I want to keep scoring and keep the board ticking over, but you have to have more discipline. In red-ball cricket, there’s more time than you realise so you mustn’t put too much pressure on yourself if you can’t score at a consistent rate. Time and intent are the key so I’ll try and bat the whole day.”
Hamza has played nine List A matches for the Bears so far in his young career and the opportunity to impress for England should give the Warwickshire coaches plenty of food for thought.
“To come into the England set-up having played 50-over cricket for Warwickshire I felt confident as it’s a good standard of cricket,” concluded Hamza.
“It’s been brilliant for me and my family to play for Warwickshire and I’ve enjoyed being around the group.
“Robbo [Mark Robinson] has been in contact with Michael Yardy our head coach and I know they’ve spoken about me and my role. Hopefully, I can impress by winning games for my country.”
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