Liam Livingstone believes his emergence as one of the most feared white-ball players in the world may have cost him a dream Ashes call-up, but still feels he can be a force in Test cricket if England “take a punt”.
Over the past year Livingstone’s career has touched new heights, becoming the six-hitting star attraction of the The Hundred and marking his comeback to the international fold this summer with a 42-ball T20 century against Pakistan – the fastest ever hundred by an England batter.
He was also an ever present in the run to the last four of this month’s T20 World Cup, showing his all-round skills with a superb spell of spin bowling in the semi-final defeat to New Zealand.
His form has been so dazzling at times that many fans, and several high-profile pundits, thought he was a shoo-in to be part of this winter’s trip to Australia.
Instead he was omitted from the senior squad and the Lions group which is currently shadowing them Down Under, and will spend the next couple of weeks 7,000 miles away captaining the host franchise in the Abu Dhabi T10 league.
While some remain perplexed by his absence, Livingstone is not among them. He has played just eight first-class matches since the start of 2020, averaging 14.75 along the way, numbers which reflect the focus he has poured into his limited-overs game.
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised. Absolutely not. I haven’t done well enough in red-ball cricket,” he told the PA news agency from the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“I have spent less time on my red-ball game and ultimately that’s how I’ve paid the price for my white-ball rise.
“I want to go and play Test cricket but I haven’t had a chance to work on my red-ball game. If you’ve only half-a-dozen games in the last two years you’re obviously not able to push your way into the Test team.
“But if you flip it, if they did take a punt on me, I believe I have the skills to perform. I still average nearly 40 across more than 60 games so my stats suggest I’m not the worst player out there. I’ve proved I can affect a game in all three facets and that I can bat and bowl under pressure in certain situations.”
Just a couple of years ago Livingstone looked to be heading down a different path, withdrawing from an Indian Premier League deal to start the season with Lancashire and prioritise his ambitions in the longer format.
And yet he insists his recent experiences with England prove he was right to pivot towards the franchise system.
That was something else…@liaml4893, take a bow 🙌
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 16, 2021
“I know I made the right decision because I’ve just represented my country at a World Cup, which was a lifelong dream,” he said.
“I’ve taken a few days to reflect and it fills me with a lot of pride to know I’ve just played every game for England at a World Cup because 12 months ago I was nowhere near doing that.
“I had to go down that white-ball route. I kept asking myself ‘how do I get in that World Cup squad?’ and it’s pretty simple to me: if I had tried to split my cricket 50:50 between the formats, I wouldn’t have been at the tournament.”
At the age of 28 there is plenty of time for Livingstone to earn his England whites, but he is resolved to not let that define him.
“Playing Test cricket is something I dreamed of as a kid, and I still do, but I’m not going to live a lifetime of regret if I don’t,” he said.
“I just hope an opportunity comes around in the next couple of years.”