Unleashing Liam Livingstone: England’s force of nature

2019 Cricket World Cup

England’s limited overs squad have a chance to atone, to some extent, for their early exit from the Champions League trophy as they begin their T20 series with South Africa. The first of three T20 Internationals takes place in Southampton on Wednesday, June 21 and Eoin Morgan’s side will be looking for a confidence-boosting victory before Test Cricket takes over in July.

South Africa were also highly fancied to go deep into the Champions Trophy and will have a point to prove over the course of the next three games so, at the very least, we should be looking forward to an entertaining series.

All Change

Eoin Morgan of England” (CC BY 2.0) by Ben Sutherland

It’s felt that England only started to take ODI cricket seriously following their humiliating early exit at the 2015 World Cup. Since then, they have stayed loyal to first-choice players; some would say they are too loyal and should have moved more quickly to replace Jason Roy with Jonny Bairstow at the recent ICC tournament.

However, it’s a new-look squad that will assemble at Taunton, Cardiff and the Ageas Bowl with an unprecedented five uncapped players included by the hosts as the selectors keep one eye on future competitions. England are joint second-favourites at 9/2 in the online cricket betting for the 2019 World Cup and while the two limited overs formats are very different, the new men have a perfect opportunity to be included in those plans for the next major tournament.

For the home side, Dawid Malan, Tom Curran, Mason Crane and Craig Overton will all be looking to make their first appearances in an England shirt but it’s the inclusion of Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone which promises to be the selectors’ best long-term option in the shortest format.

Big Entrance

Leicestershire v Lancashire” (CC BY 2.0) by Dun.can

Livingstone first hit the cricketing headlines before he had played a professional game for Lancashire. In April 2015 while appearing for club side Nantwich, he hit a scarcely believable 350 from just 138 balls.

While the game in question, against Caldy, was something of a mismatch, those are the sort of stats that hint at a bright future in the game and this display of power hitting saw Livingstone first appear for the Red Rose in a T20 fixture against Leicestershire the following month.

After two full seasons in county cricket, the 23-year-old has good returns in all forms of the game and his first class average of 47.77 goes against the notion that Livingstone is a one-dimensional cricketer.

A highest List A score of 129 also underlines the player’s potential although ironically, he will be looking to improve his T20 stats where the batting average is just 19.20, albeit at a healthy strike rate of over 130.

England have a settled squad in both limited-overs formats and vacancies are rare but with Joe Root set to take the Test captaincy for the first time this summer, there is a feeling that the Yorkshireman could be eased out of T20 cricket to reduce his workload.

Crane, Curran, Malan and Overton will all get their chance to impress but 20/20 is all about the power hitting batsmen. Livingstone’s inclusion is the most exciting proposition in this new look England squad and he has a real chance of nailing down a long-term slot in the middle order.