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Livingstone grateful for Giles' faith

Liam Livingstone rolls out the flamingo Getty Images

Less than four months ago, as the English season drew near, Liam Livingstone was unsure whether he would find a place in Lancashire's middle order. Now he is in the England Lions squad for their tri-series against Sri Lanka A and Pakistan A having impressed as a versatile batsman across all formats.

Livingstone, a 22-year-old from Barrow-in-Furness, was not completely on the outside of the first-team, having become a fixture in the T20 side that won the NatWest Blast in 2015, but was determined not be pigeon-holed early as a single-style player. He made his first-class debut in the opening match of the Championship season against Nottinghamshire - with an attack featuring, at the time, four internationals including Stuart Broad - and struck a crucial 70 which earned Lancashire what would become a matchwinning lead.

Much more was to follow with a maiden century in the next match against Somerset, then defiant unbeaten 60s against Durham and Yorkshire and a second hundred against Warwickshire. After nine Championship matches he has 582 runs at 72.75 and has been a crucial element in Lancashire's standing near the top of the table.

He has also bristled in T20 with a ferocious 55 off 23 balls against Yorkshire in a televised game which led to at least one commentator proclaiming a bright future - "I try to shut that out and just play the game," Livingstone says of the attention - and it his white-ball skills which will be at the forefront during the Lions series.

"It's happened a lot quicker than I expected," he told ESPNcricinfo. "At the start of the year I didn't really know whether I'd be playing first-team cricket, then within three months and getting a Lions call-up it's all been rather rapid."

Livingstone, who first came to significant public attention when he scored an astonishing 350 off 138 balls for his club side Nantwich in 2015, says he always believed he had the talent but acknowledges conversations he had with Ashley Giles, the Lancashire coach, during pre-season as the catalyst for the success that has followed.

"I had a lot of chats with Ash in the winter, just about being given the confidence to play my own natural game and luckily he put a lot of faith in me to do that," Livingstone said. "When I got the call that I'd be playing in the first game that was a great boost and I'm just glad I've been able to reward him for giving me that chance.

"I owe a lot to Ashley because he's the one who has given me the freedom to play the way I play. He said don't worry how you do, just go out and play your game and whatever happens, happens. The conversation at the start of the year was a big moment for me, he was the one who gave me the confidence to be myself - treat the game as another game, and it has worked well for me since then."

One aspect that has stood out has been Livingstone's adaptability across formats, a prerequisite for the modern batsman who wants to quickly adjust between the first-class and limited-overs game but something easier said than done especially when trying to secure a place in the first team.

"I was always confident I would be able to succeed, I was just waiting for my chance," he said. "I knew I had the ability, I just needed to prove it. There were a lot of people who thought the way I played wouldn't work in first-class cricket but luckily I've proved a few people wrong and hopefully I can kick on from here: this is only a start and I now need to put in consistent performances to help win matches for Lancashire."

Staying true to himself - with the help of the backing from the Lancashire management - is something he believes very strongly in. "I think the one thing that has really helped me throughout my youth days is just being as natural as I can and not trying to change anything or copy anyone. The few times I've had people try and change things it hasn't worked at all, so one of my biggest beliefs is to stick to what I trust and what works for me."

On the evidence of the last few months, it is proving a very wise decision.