Liam Livingstone, England’s uncapped selection for the Test tour of New Zealand in March and April, believes he is better placed to impress in red-ball than white-ball cricket, after missing the chance to establish his credentials in two T20 appearances against South Africa last summer.
Livingstone was drafted into the Test squad this week in place of Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, who paid the price for England’s 4-0 defeat in the recent Ashes despite not playing in any of the five matches.
At the age of 24, Livingstone is widely regarded as one of the most naturally talented batsmen in English cricket, and was appointed as Lancashire captain in the off season, taking over from Steven Croft.
Known for his hard hitting and a wide repertoire of strokes, Livingstone enjoyed some notable moments of success in 2017, in particular his maiden List A hundred – a blistering knock of 129 from 83 balls for England Lions against South Africa A at Northampton, and a career-best 224 for Lancashire against Warwickshire in the Championship in September.
However, when he was picked for England’s T20 side against South Africa in the aftermath of the Champions Trophy in June, Livingstone looked a touch overawed by the experience – he made 16 runs in two innings, running himself out on debut at Taunton before missing a full-toss to be bowled for a golden duck in the series decider at Lord’s.
Looking back now, however, Livingstone believes that experience will stand him in good stead as his England career progresses. “The Twenty20 was a good experience for me, but my red-ball game is totally different,” he told ECB.co.uk.
“I’m a lot more assured with my red-ball game than I am in T20 cricket so I’ll definitely go into the environment with a lot more confidence in my ability to perform, which will help me. It will be nice to get in and around that and hopefully show what I can do.”
Livingstone’s call-up follows his decision to forego the opportunity to ply his trade in the T20 leagues around the globe, and instead spend a second winter away with the England Lions in Australia.
“I spoke to Andy Flower about this at the start of the winter,” he added. “My ultimate goal is to play Test cricket for England, and going to Australia with the Lions was the best way to give myself the best chance of doing that.
“I could have tried to play T20 cricket around the world, but I still don’t see that as the strongest part of my game. I wanted to work on different areas of my red-ball game, and I was able to do that for our first two weeks in Brisbane.”
While training with the Lions in Queensland, Livingstone was able to attend the first day of the Ashes at the Gabba, an experience which heightened his desire to play Test cricket.
“To see the amount of interest out there, it was quite exciting,” he said. “People are saying that Test cricket’s becoming less important, but as players I don’t think that’s true at all. It’s still the toughest part of the game, and the format you get the most pleasure from succeeding in.
“T20 is great for the sport and it brings in the viewers. But you look at the Ashes and the full stadiums, there’s still a lot of interest in Test cricket, and as players it’s still what you want to play.
“Obviously the England team have had a tough Ashes, everyone knows that. But I’m sure everybody will be excited going into a new series, and I know it’s a very talented group of players. I’m just looking forward to getting in amongst it.”