England have depth for a T20 second XI: Livingstone
Perth Scorchers import makes a bold call after blazing his way to a rapid half-century in BBL win against Melbourne Renegades
Louis Cameron at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong
8 January 2020, 08:25 AM AEST
Liam Livingstone believes England could field a second XI in international limited-overs cricket and still be a force, as the Perth Scorchers recruit showcased his country's frightening T20 batting depth leading into this year's T20 World Cup.
A night after Tom Banton's extraordinary power-hitting display for the Brisbane Heat, it was another English tyro lighting up the KFC BBL in Geelong as Livingstone blasted 59 off 39 balls in a player-of-the-match performance.
The 26-year-old soldiered on despite two painful blows to the groin, hitting Lancashire teammate Richard Gleeson onto the roof of the Brownlow Stand with a six that travelled nearly 100 metres, according to Channel Seven.
It didn't all go Liam's way in that over... OUCH #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/NfmOcSY9XT— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 7, 2020
Oh man. This hurts just watching. #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/puywBbtr9s— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 7, 2020
Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler are among a handful of BBL stars who are unavailable for the tournament while England's Test side takes on South Africa, but that has not stopped a growing influx of their countrymen from filling the overseas slots on BBL rosters.
More than half the international players featuring in this summer's BBL are English.
Livingstone and Banton lead a 10-strong contingent but only Chris Jordan (Scorchers) and Tom Curran (Sydney Sixers) could be considered front-runners to make the reigning ODI champions’ 15-man squad for next summer's T20 World Cup.
"Currently I feel we could play an England 'B' team in international cricket and still be pretty strong," Livingstone said after consigning reigning champions the Melbourne Renegades to a seventh-straight defeat.
"We've got a lot of talent and I think it stems from our national team being so strong in white-ball cricket.
"We're obviously players that are striving to get into there. The talent in England is very good and the way we play our cricket has come from the top.
"English people are a lot more sought-after than what they were five or ten years ago … long may it continue."
Australians have honed their games in United Kingdom's County Championship for decades, but the migration of cricketers the other way was limited until the BBL begun in 2011.
England players have spoken of the importance of playing in domestic T20 leagues like the BBL and the Indian Premier League in their rise from being a 50-over laughing stock during the 2015 ODI World Cup to champions four years later.
Of the 11 England players who played in last year's thrilling Cup final at Lord's, only two had not played in the Big Bash.
"We can play in a lot of competitions that a lot of people can't, (the English winter) falls in a good time to play in a lot of T20 competitions. That's a factor that helps us," said Livingstone.
"But I also think the way we've grown up the last five or six years, watching the England team and the way they play their cricket.
"I think it inspires people like us to play the same way and that's what you need in T20 cricket these days."
With stints in the IPL, the Pakistan Super League and South Africa's Mzansi Super League Livingstone has become highly sought-after T20 commodity, yet he is far from confident of adding to his two international caps in the immediate future.
Livingstone was left out of England's 16-man T20 squad to face South Africa next month. While one of the world's most exciting short-form talents in Banton made it along with Curran and Jordan, the Heat import is no certainty to hold his spot.
The likes of Gleeson, Harry Gurney, Samit Patel (all Renegades), James Vince (Sixers), Alex Hales (Sydney Thunder) and Phil Salt (Adelaide Strikers) all missed the cut.
It's an enviable situation for England ahead of the T20 World Cup as they look set to pick from an extended group of players who have experience playing in high-level T20 cricket in Australia.
"The England team is so strong at the moment and we have to be better than what's already in there to force our way in," said Livingstone. "Hopefully I can keep improving and see what happens."