10Cric IPL

Power-hitting has become a super strength for Rajasthan Royals’ Liam Livingstone

Liam Livingstone IPLDubai (UAE): Currently in the midst of 'the season of his career', England’s Liam Livingstone is back with the Rajasthan Royals and straight away means business. Having been off the leash lately, scoring fluently with the help of a handful of sixes in most innings, the devastating batter spoke on a variety of topics ahead of the resumption of the IPL 2021 season.

 “I’ve really enjoyed my cricket over the last two or three months. I certainly wouldn’t have expected to do what I’ve done – if you would’ve said at the start of the summer that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. So, it’s nice to see my hard work of the last couple of years starting to pay off,” stated Liam, reflecting on his fine form.

The hard-hitting Englishman had to withdraw midway into the first phase of the IPL 2021, but says it was one of the toughest decisions he had to make. “I had spent a lot of time away from home during the winter, living out of hotels. Ultimately, I guess the pressure of everything kind of built up to a point where I felt like I wasn’t in the best place to perform even if I was needed to. The best decision for me personally and my own health was to go home and take some time off, and I think Royals management were kind enough to understand this and make everything easy for me. I feel there’s more to life than just cricket, and sometimes we sort of forget that we are actual human beings and sometimes we have to look after ourselves. I guess the decision I made at the time wasn’t an easy one, I wanted to stay with the Royals and try to help us win some games. But I think sometimes your mental and physical health is most important,” stated Liam, who says he feels really refreshed now going into the second phase of the season.

Summing up Rajasthan Royals’ campaign in the first half, Liam said that “the team played some good cricket at times and some bad cricket as well”. He added, “But we’ve now got a great opportunity to qualify for the playoffs. I feel like we’ve put together a really good squad, we’ve filled our overseas with good quality. We’ve got a lot of Indian talent in our group and hopefully we can get our combinations right to get some points.”

A destructive batsman who has close to 350 overall sixes to his name across formats, Liam referred to his ability to hit hard and long as a “super strength”, and added, “Power-hitting is something that I’ve worked really hard at - trying to get that consistency. Ultimately, it’s sort of a super strength for me at the moment and hopefully I can continue with it.”

Asked whether he feels he’s at the peak of his career at the age of 28 having played more than 150 T20 matches across domestic and global leagues, Liam replied, “I guess so. A lot of sportspersons don’t peak until they’re at the age of 30, so hopefully I’m just starting to hit the peak of my career and can continue performing well in the next four-five years.”

Responding to a question about the batting position or a role that he relishes playing, Liam said, “In the last couple of years, I’ve played at different positions. I open at home (with Lancashire), I play at 5 or 6 for England. So, it’s something that I’ve plied myself on...being adaptable to wherever I can contribute within a team, and I guess its something that helps me, makes me a little bit more selectable.”

Liam did not feature in any of the seven games this season, but hopes to find a spot this time. “We were really blessed to have a really good core group of overseas players in the first part of the tournament, so it wasn’t easy to get a game. But now hopefully there’s more opportunity in the coming games,” he said.

 “I know I enjoy my cricket the most when I’m in a comfortable environment and when I’m backed by people, so hopefully I get the chance to go out and perform and the fans can get behind me and we can win some games together for RR,” reckoned the unsparing batter.

Summarizing the conditions in the UAE from a batter’s perspective, Liam said, “I’ve played a full PSL here and some matches with England as well, so I feel the pitches are good. Everybody thinks they’re going to be really spin-friendly, but sometimes they’re really good pitches and can prove to be as good as anywhere else in the world.”

Asked whether his fellow countrymen and Rajasthan Royals’ trio Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes had a message for him ahead of the resumption, Liam said, “I’ve spoken to them and they did wish me well. It’s nice to be able to have that sort of relationship with players you’ve played with. They’ll be really excited for Rajasthan Royals to get going again, and I’m sure all three of them will be watching.”

Having already being selected in England’s squad for the T20 World Cup, Liam agrees that the mega-event is the biggest of his career so far. “I guess any World tournament with your country is as big as you can play in. It’s something you dream of as a kid, and thankfully I’ve now got the opportunity to go to a World Cup. I am very grateful that I’ve been able to work my way back into the England set-up, and hopefully I can perform well for the Royals and make a case for a starting spot when I don the England colors later on,” expressed the part-time spinner.

Lastly, with the story of Liam using RR teammate Riyan Parag’s bat doing the rounds, we asked Liam if it was true. “This was supposed to be a secret - no one was supposed to know that it was actually Riyan’s bat (laughs). So basically, he wanted one of my cricket bags and I wanted one of his bats. So, we did a little trade and I’ve been using it in white ball cricket all summer. So maybe I owe Riyan for all the sixes that I’ve been hitting over the last couple of months,” signed off Liam.