Liam Livingstone: For me now, I feel like I can bowl in a number of different situations and scenarios
England is in favor of Livingstone working; with his exceptional adaptability, few cricket players in the world could match him and he is a versatile Swiss Army knife of a cricket player, aside from being a fantastic fielder, he can knock huge sixes and bowl leg breaks and off breaks.
“Are you saying I’m a bowler who bats?” Liam Livingstone responds, smiling at a question about the current role he sees himself playing in this England team.
“I am at the moment!”
England is in favor of Livingstone working. With his exceptional adaptability, few cricket players in the world could match him.
He is a versatile Swiss Army knife of a cricket player. Aside from being a fantastic fielder, he can knock huge sixes and bowl leg breaks and off breaks. Livi has one of those in the rear, whatever you need.
However, since the World Cup began, the batting form has completely disappeared, as evidenced by an average of 11.0 and a bowling average of 35.28.
If you go back a little further and include the September New Zealand series, in which he made a superb 95 not out, the figures are more accurate, but still the wrong way round. 26.30 And 31.27.
He was, however, at his best with the ball in the second ODI against the West Indies. Three wickets, including one that ended Shai Hope’s 129-run stand with Sherfane Rutherford, which threatened to cost England the match, and another that bowled Hope out for 68 runs.
Up until then, Hope’s 177 runs against England in this series had been scored without cause or worry. Then Livingstone tore through a bat and pad.
“Yeah I think so,”Livingstone confirmed as to whether it was his best ODI wicket to date.
“I was speaking to Daws [Richard Dawson] before; it’s probably the two balls back-to-back, being able to do exactly what I wanted – to execute my plan pretty much perfectly.”
Livingstone removed Hope primarily with his leg breaks, but he has also improved his off breaks, which he uses nearly exclusively against left-handers.
He has only claimed three wickets in his 24 ODIs, but his economy of 4.95 (based on ball-by-ball data from ESPNcricinfo) indicates that he can attack as a leg spinner and defend as an off-break bowler.
“I guess the most pleasing thing for me now is I feel like I can bowl in a number of different situations and scenarios, and also be able to impact the game like I have done today,”Livingstone said.
“So yeah, I guess the role I played [on Wednesday] was very different to the one I played the other day.
“It’s something I’ve worked really hard on for a number of years. It’s probably not come as naturally to me as what batting has over the last five years. So it’s nice [to have] that when my batting’s not really in the best place at the moment.”
Livingstone made his T20 cricket debut for England in 2017 and was part of the Test team that went to New Zealand in 2018 but did not play. But he has only made an almost constant presence in both of England’s white-ball squads during the last few years.
With a T20I century against Pakistan, a player-of-the-tournament showing in the inaugural Hundred, and that moment he blasted the ball over the Headingley Football Stand, Livingstone’s passion has not diminished.
However, his proficiency with the blade is waning due to his usage as a lower-order belter. In 48 innings for England, he has faced more than 40 deliveries just three times.
“If I had the reason I’d have probably changed it by now,”Livingstone reflected on where his difficulties with the bat are coming from.
“I keep turning up to training, trying as hard as I can. I guess maybe just try to put a little bit less pressure on myself and go out and enjoy myself like I have done my whole career. It only takes one innings to change it around. I’ve had it before and I’m sure when things do change around, I’ll look back on this time in my career as something that was probably a massive learning curve for me.
“But I still feel like I can affect games of cricket for England and that’s the major bonus for me at the moment. The ball’s coming out of my hand really well and I know for a fact that things are going to change around with the bat.”
Livingstone had batted brilliantly for 17 in the opening ODI when Romario Shepherd kept the length of his delivery low and trapped him lbw.
For the remaining six white-ball matches of the tour, he is almost a lock to start as England looks for a lineup that will allow them to play both him and Sam Curran as all-rounders. Livingstone hasn’t changed his attitude towards the game, either, despite England’s recent World Cup failures and his poor batting performance.
“Yeah, life goes on, the sun comes up,”Livingstone said of his main learnings from the World Cup campaign.
“Cricket’s a sport; we are incredibly privileged to be able to play for our country. But it’s not the be-all and end-all. I was incredibly happy to be able to go home and see my grandad, who’s not in the greatest health at the moment. He’s in the latest stages of his life. So that gives incredible perspective me.
“There’s more to life than cricket, and cricket while we’re playing and while we’ve got this opportunity to represent our country, it should be enjoyed.”