Liam Livingstone hit the headlines in early 2015 when he struck 350 off 128 deliveries in a club match…
Then he hit the headlines again later that year when he got glassed in a fight…
A few weeks later he didn’t hit the headlines when he was dismissed first ball in the T20 Blast final…
He hadn’t exactly hit the ground running in the shortest format of the game and still averages below 20 but he didn’t half hit the ground running in the County Championship last year. Though his season tailed off slightly, he still finished with in excess of 800 runs at an average of just over 50. Having played a lot of club and second XI cricket and in an era where many players make their professional breakthrough whilst in their teens, I was hesitant to the idea of Livingstone being rushed into the England set-up too soon. The structure of the England Lions however provides great opportunity for he and others to acquire more experience and develop. Oh and how he’s developed! In England Lions current match against a decent Sri Lanka A outfit, LL has made scores of 105 and 140 not out…
His First Class batting average has now soared to 54.52 and recalling England’s batting horror show in India, it’s encouraging to see a batsman prospering in the sub-continent. England head to Oz next winter for the Ashes but even if Livingstone doesn’t make the breakthrough to the full national side soon, it could be that he’s saved for the next time England head to spinning terrain.
Last term, even if he wasn’t making runs, his name was all over the scorecards as he claimed catch after catch (31 in 17 FC outings to date) and his leg-spin bowling has some potential.
Elsewhere for England Lions, Toby Roland-Jones has led the line and contributed with the bat whilst the Curran brothers (Tom and Sam) have continued to enhance their reputation. It’s been a bleak winter for Jack Leach however. The Somerset man has struggled with the required adjustments to his action and was left out of the Lions side because of those struggles. Upon his return, his first innings figures of 18-1-97-1 don’t make for pleasant reading. The winter has not been so bleak for the consistently penetrative Ollie Rayner however. The German turner has surely usurped Leach in the England spin queue.
It’s been good to see that the Lions set-up hasn’t just been for the kids and that seasoned county players such as Roland-Jones and Middlesex colleague Rayner have been presented with the opportunity to press their case for international selection. If they did so, they wouldn’t be the first players to have successful international careers having only entered the stage around the age of thirty mark… Mike Hussey, Chris Rogers, Adam Voges and Misbah-ul-Haq amongst them.
Update: Jack Leach immediately responded to my bleak assessment of his winter by claiming figures of 2-3 as England Lions nearly pulled off a marvellous heist in Dambulla. Stumper Ben Foakes also claimed ten dismissals (8c / 2s) and contributed scores of 30 and 54 in this match.