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Full name Leonard Livingston
Born May 3, 1920, Hurlstone Park, Canterbury, Sydney, New South Wales
Died January 16, 1998, Hurlstone Park, Canterbury, Sydney, New South Wales (aged 77 years 258 days)
Major teams New South Wales, Northamptonshire
Batting style Left-hand bat
Bowling style Slow left-arm orthodox
Fielding position Wicketkeeper
|First-class span||1941/42 - 1957|
Jock Livington, who died in Sydney on Jan 16 at the age of 77, had one regret. He never played for Australia. He should have done - and if he were playing today he would have done. In the 1940s, one sure way for an Australian to abort a possible Test career was to play league cricket in England, which Livingston did with Rishton. The supreme Australian team which set sail for England in 1948 included one uncapped left-hander - 18-year-old Neil Harvey - but there was no place for Jock.
Born in Sydney on May 3, 1920, and christened Leonard, Livingston played five matches for New South Wales between 1941 and 1947, making a century against Queensland. He added 29 centuries for Northants, for whom he played from 1950 to 1957. Livingston took his cricket very seriously, and he was often thought of as a loner. As a teetotaller among several who liked their refreshments, he may have appeared aloof. But in truth he was always approachable, and loved to talk about the game. He was particularly helpful to younger players. Peter Arnold, then trying to cement a place in the Northants first team, recalls Livingston watching him from the other end against Bruce Dooland, the famed Australian legspinner. Jock came down the wicket and said, "He's had you playing back to the last three balls, the next one will be his flipper. So push forward." Arnold took his advice. It was the flipper, and he managed to keep it out. At the end of the over Dooland came up to Arnold and said, "That little bugger's telling you how to play me, isn't he?"
Livingston's particular strength was his Astaire-like footwork. He moved into position quickly, giving himself that much more time to play the shot. And as befits a man who was coached as a boy by Don Bradman, he was strong on the hook and pull. He hit the ball in a downward arc, thus minimising the risk of a boundary catch.
Of all his fine innings, one stands out in the memory. It came against Essex at Wellingborough in 1955. Northants needed 332 to win in 202 minutes. On the final morning Ray Smith of Essex had completed the fastest century of the season, in 73 minutes. Livingston had that mark within his sights, but with lunch approaching decided not to take any more risks. After the interval he accelerated, and saw Northants home with a thunderous 172 not out. Trevor Bailey, an opponent that day, used every trick in the book to slow down the over rate. He still remembered that innings, more than 40 years on: "Jock was a tough competitor, with wonderful footwork."
But Livingston's contribution to Northamptonshire cricket did not rest on the field. He was a fine judge of a player, and was largely responsible for the development within the county of Frank Tyson and Keith Andrew, whom he recommended on the strength of his wicketkeeping to George Tribe in a charity match. Jock remained close friends with Tribe, and felt he could blame his abbreviated Test career on poor wicketkeeping, in particular by Don Tallon, who had difficulty reading the slow left-armer's varied deliveries.
Livingston corresponded regularly with Sir Donald Bradman, and would always exhibit his latest letter with great pride and glee. Livingston was tolerant and encouraging - with one exception. He hated sloppy fielding, and would quickly admonish the wrong-doer. He set a hard example: he was a magnificent cover point, as well as a useful stand-in wicketkeeper.
In all he made 15,260 runs at 45.01. His best season was 1954, when he amassed 2269 runs at 55.34. He captained the Commonwealth XI in India in 1949-50, where he was one of three players - Bill Alley and Frank Worrell were the others - who passed 1000 runs. His retirement was hastened by an arthritic knee.
After finishing with Northants he became a director of Gray-Nicolls. He once told me that a certain England player had asked for 19 new bats from the firm, with whom he had a contract. "Bradman used at most two a season - and he hit the ball a damn sight harder and more often than this bloke," said Jock.
Ian Davies, Wisden Cricket Monthly