Haseem Habeed pictured (Left) celebrating the County Championship Division Two title. (Credit: Will Hugall)

Nottinghamshire star Haseeb Hameed believes he’s capable of returning as England’s opening batter this year and admits his game has changed from when he last played.

Hameed’s last appearance for England came in the 4-0 series thrashing by Australia in the Ashes last year, where the batter scored just 80 runs in four tests.

Hameed has averaged a strike rate of 24.38 in his ten England tests to date and was criticised by many fans for his cautious scoring approach in the series.

Hameed himself admitted to becoming overly defensive at times.

Speaking to the England and Wales Cricket Board, he said: “One of the big mistakes I made last year individually, but [also] as a group, is that we went into our shells a bit.

“We got a bit defensive, a bit survival mode and as a result we all suffered.

“That’s me speaking from a personal level as well.

“The way I look at it, I’ve had one bad tour. At the height of the pressures and the exposure of the game, maybe that heightened it a little bit,’’ Hameed explained.

It was a completely different story for the opener with his club side Nottinghamshire last season, where he regained his form with a more expansive style in the County Championship and boasted a strike rate of 62.40.

The 26-year-old, who is preparing to captain England Lions on a red-ball tour of Sri Lanka later this month, said: “It’s amazing how by flipping that mindset you find yourselves playing shots that you ordinarily wouldn’t do.

“Shots find you because you’ve got that intent and over time, you understand that those are shots are within you.”

“I had a lot of success in white-ball cricket growing up, so those qualities are within me and it’s just constantly making sure that I’m giving myself the best opportunity to bring them out.”

”I’m confident and I trust that game is within me and that’s why I’m very optimistic”

Haseeb Hameed

“It’s an interesting one because you have your typical Test match opener, which is what I was trying to play like and there’s also a side of me that enjoys hitting these shots and I guess letting the uniqueness in the way that I play come out,” said Hameed.

There is no doubt that Hameed’s immediate focus will be on England Lions’ two four-day red-ball games against Sri Lanka A.

The Lions captain knows that the tour is a great chance to lead by example while also impressing the coaches in training.

“I’ll have my own style [of captaincy] of course, but the brand implemented is now the England brand.

“This whole idea of playing to win and being prepared to lose the game in order to win – 100% I’ll try to replicate that.”

“Any time you can play with an England badge is an opportunity. That training camp in UAE was nice and it felt good to be back in England colours.

“I guess it’s just an extension of that and as always, trying to show my best side even in training” said the Bolton-born batsman, who turned 26 just yesterday.

He explained how he has had several conversations with the England hierarchy including managing director Rob Key over the summer, discussing where his game is currently at and what the future holds.

“He [Rob Key] mentioned that for the England team what was important was this idea of soaking up pressure when necessary and then being able to apply pressure at different times.

“As soon as you sense a moment, being brave enough and strong enough to take your opportunities in the middle and the fact that you’ll be backed for it.”

He continued: “I feel like I was able to show that side for Nottinghamshire through the summer, and I’m confident and I trust that game is within me and that’s why I’m very optimistic.”

Hameed will be next be in action on the Lions tour with the first test scheduled to run from January 31–February 3, while the second will take place between February 7-10, with both matches taking place in Galle.