Livingstone striving to do a lot for England with very little

Livingstone striving to do a lot for England with very little


It's not easy to make an impact when you face only a few balls and bowl a few overs

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KINGSTOWN (Web Desk) - Liam Livingstone has batted just 33 balls in three innings at three venues during this T20 World Cup. He has 61 runs at a strike-rate of 184.84 but he is a disappointed man. Welcome to the world of a lower-middle order batter in a short and sharp tournament in atypical conditions characterised by slower pitches. He is most disappointed with his 33 off 17 against South Africa, when he hit a full toss into a strong wind, leaving England needing 25 off 16.

They didn't make it. The next game a must-win for England in which Livingstone didn't get to bat but played a role with the ball: his off-breaks to left-hand batters and leg-breaks to right-hand batters yielded 4-0-24-1.

The thing on slower pitches is that the top order tries to bat deeper, the No. 7 gets to bat either in crisis or when it's time to go, go, go, and has to adjust to many variables that are hard to train for. After that four-over spell against USA, Livingstone was asked whether he felt like he is in the tournament.

"It's a bit different," Livingstone said. "I don't really have the most glamorous role in this team, to be honest. I guess my role in the team is to be there, bang on it whenever I'm needed. And even the game against the West Indies, having bowled that one over, getting the wicket of Rovman Powell, I'd probably rather take that 1 for 20 than none for 4 or something.

"It's a different role to what I've been used to my whole career. It's something that takes a bit of getting used to more mentally than anything else, and that's why I was so disappointed the other day that I didn't finish it off against South Africa because I felt like that was my time in the tournament, my chance in the tournament to really win us a game. Hopefully there's a time still to come.

"It's different: bowl when I'm needed, don't always bat in the games that are finished quite quickly. I guess it's more a mental challenge for me over the last few months of making sure that I'm right on it whenever I'm needed."

It is difficult because elite cricketers are ultra-competitive athletes who have made it this far by getting involved in every bit of play they can. "As a kid, I always wanted to be involved," Livingstone said. "That's the reason I started bowling a few years back. Bating at seven and bowling one over every couple of games or whatever ... that's where the hard bit comes because you want to try and get involved in the game. But yeah, it's the role that I'm playing in this team and the best way for me to do well for the team is making sure that I'm right on it whenever I'm needed.

"Thankfully the last two games I feel like I struck the ball pretty well against South Africa and I feel like I bowled pretty well today. So I guess they're the last two performances with bat and ball. I feel like I'm in a really good place. So who knows, hopefully I'm not needed in the next two games and we can win a World Cup, but if I am needed, I feel like I'm in a decent place."

When that rare chance comes, though you strike the ball well, you are expected to finish the game, which Livingstone didn't. But the fact is that nobody has aggregated 100 runs batting at Nos. 6 and 7 this World Cup.

"Look, I'm in the team to finish off games with the bat and try and get wickets with the ball when we feel like we're struggling for one," Livingstone said. "So yeah, I'm always going to be harsh on myself. I had the chance to finish the game off the other day and didn't quite do it. But yeah, I feel like I was hitting the ball really well. I felt like I was bowling really well. I guess the most pleasing thing for me over the last two or three years is my body feels really good, and that's the biggest pleasing thing for me. If there's an opportunity to affect a game of cricket over the next one or two games, then hopefully I'm ready to do that."

It's difficult to train for such a role too. Without giving away secrets, Livingstone shed some light on his process. "Anything that you do for a living, you've got to find a way to train for that," he said. "My training's been a bit different. You've got to try and put yourself in pressure situations. Having Polly [Kieron Pollard] around has made things a little bit easier for me, having someone who's done the role for so long, being able to speak to him about that. I guess I've kind of enjoyed the challenge of not getting loads of opportunities, but when it comes, trying to make sure I can deliver."

The physical challenge of this role often doesn't get spoken about. Livingstone nearly did his knee at the IPL two years ago. He almost injured his side in this tournament. "Touch wood, a lot of wood," Livingstone said when asked if his side was fine. "Yeah, my knee's been really good. I had the same sort of thing in an IPL a couple of years ago when I missed the ball, and I think it comes from sitting down for a couple of hours and then trying to hit the ball out the ground first ball.

"Yeah, my side feels alright. My knee is really good, which is most pleasing thing for me. So fingers crossed, the last couple of years of niggles are behind me and I'm back enjoying my cricket and that's the main thing for me. So playing with a smile on my face, which is something that I always used to do."