Chance to ‘reset’ during self-isolation another driving force behind 42-ball milestone, Livingstone says
Livingstone was one of 16 England players self-isolating at home after a number of the squad and management tested positive for Covid-19 following the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Bristol. He was left out of the side throughout the 50-over series but found an area for improvement during training on the eve of the game and said he felt “really good” as soon as he picked a bat up again.
“It was almost quite nice to chill out for 10 days and forget about cricket – just have a little bit of time away,” Livingstone said. “I found a little thing with Colly and Tres at Bristol. Something just clicked. I didn’t pick up a bat for 10 days and then came in yesterday and felt really good.
“Throughout my career I’ve been someone who has been a little bit more reckless. I’ve obviously got an ability to strike the ball but the thing I need to get better at is consistency. It’s a technical thing, but mentally it helps to be able to stay calm when you’re under pressure in a situation like I was tonight and swing a little bit less hard, knowing that you’re in a better position to swing through the ball.”
Trescothick, England’s batting coach, fed balls to Livingstone in the warm-ups before Friday night’s game which he hit through wide mid-on, looking to hit the gap between boundary-riders at long-on and deep midwicket as he did several hours later. Collingwood, who is standing in as head coach with Chris Silverwood on leave for this series, explained that the change had involved Livingstone looking to avoid his back hip collapsing during his swing.
“We were really just trying to get the consistency of his striking a lot better,” Collingwood explained. “We all know how far he can hit a ball and how powerful he is but having a direction and real kind of precision in his training [helps him] to understand exactly where he’s hitting the ball and the trajectory of the ball coming off the bat.
“In the past he’s always been a little bit frustrated that his back hip collapses, which can then make him hit the ball a lot higher than he was hoping for, [so we were] just doing a little bit of work on how far that front foot goes out and getting the base a little bit better. T20 batting can be like a golf swing, and [is about] just making sure when the beans are going and the adrenaline is going that you keep the base nice and solid so you can get consistency in the strike.
“He’s very thoughtful and analyses quite a lot. As much as people might think that he just stands there and swings, there’s a lot of thought that goes into his game. It’s not just a God-given gift that he’s got – he puts a lot of work and effort into this. That was as exiting an innings as I’ve seen out of any of our white-ball cricketers. You think you’ve got a real powerful unit there and then Liam does something like that – it’s adding something special.”
Collingwood added that it was “frightening” to think that Livingstone still had room for improvement ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup, and that he had furthered his case for inclusion in the squad for the tournament.
“You can’t do any more than what he’s done last night,” Collingwood said. “It’s very hard not to pick a guy if he’s played like that and what he gives as an overall package is very exciting – he’s very much a modern T20 cricketer. He’s growing all the time: he’s not the finished article by any means, which is quite frightening to say.”
Eoin Morgan, England’s captain, said in the post-match presentation that playing at high-scoring grounds like Trent Bridge “replicates something similar to Sharjah where we might play games during the World Cup” and Livingstone suggested that his experience playing on Asian pitches in the IPL and the PSL – he averages 40.87 with a strike rate of 136.82 in the UAE in his T20 career – should help him if selected for the tournament.
“That’s the reason that we travel around playing in these different competitions: to try and get experience of playing in different countries,” he said. “Playing in the Big Bash sets you up really well for when you go over and play in Australia, and it’s the same with the PSL and the IPL and playing in the subcontinent.
“I’ve been guilty of it before – looking too far ahead – and it gets me nowhere so it’s certainly not something I’ll be doing. I love being around this environment – you can come in and be yourself, and there’s no pressure to be like anyone else – and hopefully I can stay in it for a little bit longer.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98