Liam Livingstone proud of ability to adapt after leading England to series win
Liam Livingstone prides himself on his readiness to adapt after the all-rounder inspired England to a Twenty20 series win over Sri Lanka in an unfamiliar role.
England stumbled to 36 for four in pursuit of 112 – later reduced to 103 from 18 overs because of a brief rain delay – but Livingstone and Sam Billings assuaged the nerves with an important 54-run stand from 48 balls.
While Billings fell for 24 with 13 still required on an awkward surface, Livingstone’s unbeaten 29, the highlight of which was an audacious ramp over long-leg, helped England to victory with five wickets and 11 balls to spare.
He has occasionally stepped into the middle order in T20s but is more accustomed to opening the batting, having done so with Lancashire and a number of domestic franchise sides around the world.
But after helping England move into an unassailable 2-0 lead Livingstone, who is filling in for the unavailable Ben Stokes in this three-match series, insisted he is happy to bat where he is required, as well as chip in with his unusual mixture of off-spin and leg-breaks when required, having bowled two overs in both matches to date.
“It’s something I pride myself on, being as versatile as I can,” he said. “It’s something that’s rolled into my bowling as well, bowl off-spin and leg-spin just to try to give people different options.
“It’s something I’ve worked really hard on, for this opportunity to try and push my way into a team as somebody that can offer something in all facets of the game.
“It’s the same with my batting, trying to make myself a player who can bat all the way from one to eight. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of but wherever I get an opportunity it’s nice to be able to contribute to a win.
“It was nice to put that partnership on and obviously batting at number six in this team, your job in chases is to be there at the end. It’s always really pleasing. I’m still learning and it’s nice to get us over the line.
“I think the rain actually helped the pitch a lot. I don’t think it was easy-going early on and I think the rain actually made the ball skid on a little bit more.
“The partnership with Sam, we just tried to hit the fielders and run as hard as we could, try to knock the runs off that way, knowing we would get the odd boundary along the way. It’s nice to be there at the end and see us home.”
A stellar collective effort in the field restricted Sri Lanka to 111 for seven – the lowest total England have ever conceded when they have bowled the full allotment – with Mark Wood taking two wickets in two balls and Adil Rashid also collecting a couple of scalps.
But while an England top-order minus Jos Buttler because of a calf strain misfired, Livingstone and Billings – who came into the side for Buttler – grasped their opportunity in a low-scoring encounter.
The pair have been on the periphery of the limited-overs set-up for some time and while they will be pushing for a squad place for England’s T20 World Cup campaign, scheduled to start in October, Livingstone knows the depth in batting resources this country has.
And he believes the talent pool is only expanding following the metamorphosis of the white-ball sides under Eoin Morgan in recent years.
He added: “White-ball cricket in England at the moment, I’ve played quite a bit of county cricket over the last couple of weeks and there’s a lot of talent and a lot of good players in the country.
“That comes from young lads watching this team over the last four or five years.
“I guess we’re now seeing the young lads coming through that have watched, learned and grown up watching this team. We’ve got a lot of talent and it’s a great problem to have.”
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