PAK vs ENG: Liam Livingstone set to make Test debut
Liam Livingstone is set to make his Test debut in the series opener against Pakistan on December 1 (Thursday). England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed the same on Wednesday. He will be one of the two new faces in the England Test XI, with opener Ben Duckett being the other. Livingstone is expected to contribute with his all-round prowess. Here are further details.
Why does this story matter?
- The upcoming series would mark England's first Test assignment on Pakistan soil since 2005.
- Notably, the Brits won the T20I leg of the tour 4-3.
- England confirmed their playing XI for the first of the three Tests, which will be played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
- Eyes will be on Livingstone, who has already established himself as a vital cog of England's white-ball teams.
England's Playing XI for first Pakistan Test
England's Playing XI for first Pakistan Test: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Liam Livingstone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson.
Brendon McCullum backs Livingstone to come good
Livingstone is among those rare cricketers who can deliver both off-spin and leg-spin. The same can come in handy on Pakistan tracks. Not to forget, his ability to score quick runs. England Test head coach Brendon McCullum, who has been endorsing aggressive cricket in Test matches, has high hopes from the Lancashire all-rounder. Livingstone got the nod ahead of Surrey's off-spinning all-rounder Will Jacks.
What did McCullum say?
"He bowls off-spin, leg-spin, fields well and smacks the ball out of the park - it's hard not to get around a player who plays like that," said McCullum. Meanwhile, England Test skipper Ben Stokes also explained why Livingstone was preferred ahead of Jacks.
Stokes looking to utilize spin options
"I think given the place where Livi's going to play and as that third spinner role, it's quite nice to have someone who turns it both ways," asserted Stokes. "And quite nice the way he applies himself with the bat - very similar to Jacksy, but having that leg-spin and off-spin possibility with Livi was a big plus for us."
A look at Livingstone's First-Class numbers
Livingstone, 29, last played a First-Class game in September 2021. He has so far played 62 matches in the format, scoring 3,069 runs at 38.36 (100s: 7, 50s: 15). The all-rounder has also scalped 43 wickets at 36.13 with the help of a five-fer. Interestingly, Jack Leach is the only frontline spinner in the England XI. Livingstone and Joe Root would assist him.
Duckett earns much-awaited recall
Duckett, who last played a Test in 2016, will partner Crawley at the top. The Nottinghamshire batter smashed 1,012 runs in the last County Championship season at an average and strike rate of 72.28 and 76.09, respectively. Notably, the southpaw scored 233 runs at 46.60 (strike rate 159.58) in the T20 leg of the tour. The same earned him preference ahead of Keaton Jennings.
Stokes wants Duckett to attack at the top
"Ducky showed out here in the T20s just how good he is against spin bowling," Stokes said. "To have someone at the top like him who can mess around with the fields and make it a captain's nightmare."