Other Sports Ramprakash gives quartet hope for England Test team

Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins are the front-runners to secure an opening spot in the England Test team.

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Mark Ramprakash has revealed that teenager Haseeb Hameed is among four opening batsman "at the head of the queue" to replace Alex Hales in the England Test side.

Hales will not travel with England on the upcoming tour of Bangladesh after he and limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan made themselves unavailable due to concerns over security.

While Hales has established himself at international level in white-ball cricket, the 27-year-old's place in the Test side is under threat due to a lack of runs in the recent drawn series with Pakistan.

Hameed has caught the eye for Lancashire in only his second season in the County Championship, making four centuries and passing 50 on a further seven occasions to average 53.76 at the age of 19.

Keaton Jennings is the leading run-scorer in the County Championship in 2016 and gave another timely reminder to the selectors by making a seventh Championship ton of the campaign for Durham against Surrey on Monday.

England batting coach Ramprakash revealed that the prolific duo are in the frame to take Hales' place along with Middlesex pair Sam Robson and Nick Gubbins, both in Bangladesh and potentially beyond the two-match series next month.

Asked if Hameed could take Hales' spot in the short and long term, Ramprakash told The Guardian. "Yes. I've seen quite a lot of him. I first saw him when he was 16 and hugely impressive.

"He recently came to the [Pakistan] Test match at Old Trafford and he had a 40-minute bat in the lunch break.

"We also had a good chat. He's got very good technique, excellent temperament and an ability to bat for long periods of time. He plays the ball late and his results this year show that he's careful about his shot selection.

"He's very impressive – not just as a player but as a young man. He's coped admirably with opening in Division One and he's a leading contender with Keaton Jennings, Nick Gubbins and Sam Robson. Those four are at the head of the queue."

Ramprakash still feels Hales can cut it at Test level, but knows it is down to the selectors to decide whether he has a future in the longest format.

"He's thought long and hard about his game," the former England batsman said of Hales. "Alex played extremely well against Sri Lanka. 

"He got 86 and 94 at Headingley and Lord's and showed he can build an innings at Test level – and it was a surprise when he got out. I remember how well he was doing at Headingley when the ball was moving around appreciably. He batted time, he left well, he did all the things a traditional Test opener would do.

"Of course, Pakistan were a different proposition. Mohammad Amir with the new ball was a real challenge. While he got a half-century at Edgbaston he didn't get the runs he was hoping to.

"But opening the batting in Test cricket is tough – and it's especially tough when you're also opening in one-day and T20 cricket. I've seen enough to suggest Hales can develop into a very good Test opener – but it's up to the selectors whether they persist in investing in him."

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