Livingstone ready to take flight for the Phoenix
From Cumbria to Lancashire and Nantwich, to now Edgbaston and Birmingham. Liam Livingstone is ready to showcase his explosive hitting at the top order to a new audience in the second city.
The career of a well-travelled, but young 26-year-old, continues to track on an upward curve. Starting in his home town of Barrow-in-Furness, Livingstone moved to Lancashire County Cricket Club and Nantwich for league cricket, a short trip but one with the pressure of performing.
"Edgbaston is always pumping on Finals Day. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of being somewhere new and playing with new coaches and teammates."
Captaincy and five years with Lancashire followed a phenomenal innings of 350 off 138 balls (34 fours 27 sixes) with his league side.
All headline performances that catapulted the all-rounder to the highest echelons of the T20 circuit. International honours as well as the IPL, PSL, Big Bash have all come calling since, a testament to his attacking approach which saw the opener strike a tournament-high of 26 sixes.
Now it’s the turn of The Hundred, an action-packed, unmissable new 100 ball cricket competition where everyone is welcome.
“It’s another competition and there’s a lot of buzz about it,” said Livingstone following his return from the Big Bash with the Perth Scorchers. “I’m really looking forward to playing in it.”
“It’ll be nice to get used to playing at a different home ground and obviously Edgbaston is a great ground.
“It’s always pumping on Finals Day and it’s a lovely ground to play at. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of being somewhere new and playing with new coaches and teammates.”
The opportunity of playing in The Hundred came to fruition from over 200 miles away. After entering the inaugural competition via a draft, Livingstone watched at home as the eight teams chose their remaining squads following a selection of ‘local icons’ at the Sky Studios in London.
Picking last in the eighth spot, Birmingham Phoenix under the auspices of General Manager Craig Flindall, Head Coach Andrew McDonald via video link, Assistant Coach Daniel Vettori and Data Insights Manager Daniel Weston, the Phoenix pounced on their prime target.
No real weakness. With the bat, starts quickly and is strong boundary hitter, particularly sixes. Also improving leg spin-bowling option. These were all terms coined by Weston following the completion of the evening.
On the night, however, it was a big surprise to Livingstone who thought he’d find himself in his usual dressing room spot during the summer.
“I had no idea,” Livingstone added. “I thought I was going to end up at Manchester, to be honest. I obviously watched the draft and kind of thought I knew where I was going, but it was a nice surprise for me and a nice change to get away from Old Trafford for a little bit.
“The team we’ve got is very well suited to playing at Birmingham. It’s a big ground and as long as we get the support and grow our fanbase pretty quickly and fill the stadium then I’m sure Edgbaston can become a fortress quite quickly.”
Apart from a wildcard pick which follows the Vitality Blast, the Birmingham Phoenix squad is now complete. With Chris Woakes as the centrally contracted player, England all-rounder Moeen Ali joined Livingstone in round one priced at £125,000.
"We’ve gone with the local boys as our main core and that’s what usually wins you tournaments."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Vitality Blast final star Ravi Bopara followed in round two building an experienced and envious foundation.
“We’ve gone with the local boys as our main core and that’s what usually wins you tournaments,” stated Livingstone.
“Kane is obviously one of the best in the world and he’ll be really good to play with. He’s been around and experienced a lot in his cricketing career, so it’ll be great to play and spend time with him.
“I’ve played with Mo a little bit in the South African league just gone and he’s one of the best around and great to have. We’ve got some exciting young boys as well with Pat Brown and Tom Helm is another good one from Middlesex.
“We’ve put together a really strong team with quite a few opening batters which are usually a good thing because it’s mostly the opening batters who go hard.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the team together because we’ve got a lot of good blokes. It should be good fun.”
And the money involved with the selections?
“The price tag is what it is,” the twice T20 international said. “We don’t really play for the money, it’s all about the experiences. Whether you go for £425,000 or £1,000 it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re ready and willing to put in some big performances.
“That’s my main aim and I’m really excited to see where the tournament goes. Obviously, there were a few surprising picks here and there, so it’ll be interesting to see how people play out.”
Including the draft delegation, Jim Troughton and Alex Gidman the head coaches of Warwickshire and Worcestershire respectively join the impressive management team.
Led by McDonald, who at 38 years old is earning the attention of the top jobs in world cricket, the Phoenix have all bases covered.
“Unfortunately, I’ve never played under him, but he was at one of the Big Bash games in Geelong,” Livingstone concluded when asked of his relationship with the former Melbourne Renegades coach.
“That was the first time I’d actually met him and had a quick chat with him. For me, it’s a new coach to play under and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve heard very good reports from everybody who has played under him and people say he is a very good coach.
“I was with Rajasthan last year and they’ve just taken him on as head coach, so I’ve been speaking to the people there and they say he’s been brilliant already!”
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