Brendon McCullum has no issues with Liam Livingstone’s lack of red-ball cricket

Brendon McCullum is not concerned that Liam Livingstone has not played a red-ball match in 2022 and believes he is a “feather in the cap” for England captain Ben Stokes.

The 29-year-old was part of England’s successful T20 World Cup campaign in Australia earlier this month and was a surprise name in the Test squad for their first tour of Pakistan since 2005.

Lancashire player Livingstone has built his name as a prolific limited-overs performer and has not played a first-class game since September 2021.

However, England head coach McCullum believes that does not matter.

“Not really. I think he’s a good player, so we’ll find out I suppose,” the New Zealander said.

“I’ve seen a bit of him on the T20 circuit and international cricket and enjoyed his style of play. He bowls off-spin, leg-spin, fields well and smacks the ball out of the park – it’s hard not to get around a player who plays like that.

“He carries himself in a great way and a great manner. It’s a real feather in the cap for the skipper and some of the senior players within the group that one of the best T20 players in the world is desperate to be part of the squad because of the goodwill that’s been built up over the last few months.

“So they’ve got all excited for his involvement and I’m sure he’ll be able to put in a strong performance given the opportunity.”

Livingstone has played 62 first-class matches since making his debut in 2016
Liam Livingstone has played 62 first-class matches since making his debut in 2016 (Martin Rickett/PA)

Livingstone is one of two batting all-rounders who were called up for their maiden Test tour, with Will Jacks also yet to represent England in the longest format.

Jacks played 11 first-class games for county champions Surrey last season and averaged 54 with the bat.

The duo will also bolster an inexperienced spin attack, of which only Jack Leach has Test caps, with 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed the only other specialist tweaker in the squad and has just three first-class appearances under his belt.

Despite admitting that leg-spinner Ahmed is not a complete player yet, McCullum believes the England environment is the best place to develop his talent.

“He’s a rough diamond, 18-years-old, leg-spinner who can spin the ball both ways, dynamic in the field and he’s got a power game and likes to play the game at a high tempo,” he said.

McCullum believes Ahmed will develop quicker with the England team than left in the domestic set up
Brendon McCullum believes Rehan Ahmed, pictured, will develop quicker with England (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’s nowhere near the finished article, we know that, but what’s the alternative? Leave him in a system which may not come through necessarily as the product you’d hope for in the end?

“So we get him in here and it’s a great feather in the cap for the skipper and the senior players within the group and the coaching staff, that we believe we can help get to his talent quicker.

“If we can’t, that’s our problem, not his. He’s a rare talent worth investing in, and we’ll make sure we’ll try to look after him over the next little while as well.

“Because if he does taste some success it’s all going to come pretty quick for him and we need to ensure that we’ve got his back when his time does come.”