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Feature

Liam Livingstone expects T10 format to 'suit my game down to the ground'

"It's about going out there, trying to enjoy ourselves, and trying to hit as many sixes as we can and taking as many wickets as we can"

Aadam Patel
19-Nov-2021
Liam Livingstone romped to a 17-ball fifty in England's chase, England vs Pakistan, Trent Bridge, 1st T20I, July 16, 2021

After the jam-packed English summer, Liam Livingstone flew out to the UAE for the IPL before joining England for the T20 World Cup  •  Getty Images

For Liam Livingstone, it has been a breakthrough year, and a year that has also seen him clock up the air miles. From cementing his place as a regular within the England white-ball set-up to plying his trade in franchise leagues around the world, the 28-year-old has represented England, Lancashire, Birmingham Phoenix, Rajasthan Royals, Peshawar Zalmi and Perth Scorchers over the last 12 months.
And now his whirlwind year will culminate with his first experience of the T10 format, as captain of Team Abu Dhabi, before heading home for Christmas - he will be with his family for the first time in four years.
The Abu Dhabi T10 gets underway on Friday evening, and although it is a new format for Livingstone, it should fit his explosive power-hitting ability to the tee.
"I've never played T10, so I don't really know what to expect," Livingstone said. "Everybody says it's a great competition, and as somebody that plays the game the way I do, I think it's something that's going to suit my game down to the ground. I'm not somebody that ever puts too much pressure on myself to go out and perform. It's about going out there, trying to enjoy ourselves, and trying to hit as many sixes as we can and taking as many wickets as we can, and I'll certainly be encouraging all the other boys to play the game the same way."
After the jam-packed English summer, Livingstone flew out to the UAE for the IPL before joining up with the England squad for the T20 World Cup. It has been a year of constant movement from bubble to bubble and hotel room to hotel room for Livingstone, and he used the few days between England's World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand and the start of the Abu Dhabi T10 to get away from cricket, and do things many cricketers haven't been able to recently - seeing his friends and family, and going to restaurants in Dubai.
"I've played a lot of cricket over the last three or four months. So I don't really think I needed the prep time that the lads coming in would have needed," he said. "I think the biggest priority for me was to get away from cricket for a couple of days and refresh my mind more than anything else."
"If you told me 12 months ago that I'd play every game for England in a World Cup, I wouldn't have believed you. So yeah, it was disappointing for a night, but I guess it was more the satisfaction of how far I've come and how far my game has developed"
Livingstone on England's loss to New Zealand at the T20 World Cup
In fact, Livingstone will only be out of his required quarantine on Friday afternoon, just in time for Abu Dhabi's first match against Bangla Tigers.
That agonising loss to New Zealand was "devastating", but for Livingstone, it is a matter of recognising how far he has come. "If you told me 12 months ago that I'd play every game for England in a World Cup, I wouldn't have believed you. So yeah, it was disappointing for a night," he said. "But I guess it was more the satisfaction of how far I've come and how far my game has developed, and I guess how much the hard work that I've put in travelling around the world for the last three or four years has probably paid off for me and got me to where I wanted to go.
"I fulfilled a childhood dream to represent my country in any sport. For me, the reflections were more about how far I've come. And yeah, I guess the opportunities that we've got as a team going forward is that we get a chance to redeem ourselves in 12 months' time [in the T20 World Cup in Australia], and that's the exciting part for us."
Another exciting prospect for Livingstone is the mantle of responsibility that has been placed upon him as the leader of the Abu Dhabi outfit, and he insisted that he had learnt a great deal from playing under various captains across the world, but that it was still a job he would look to do his own way.
"When you play under people like Morgs [Eoin Morgan], you realise that being pretty relaxed and backing your team-mates is probably ultimately the biggest strength you can have as a captain," Livingstone said. "I'll certainly do it my own way. It'll be a little bit different in T10 cricket than in T20, but I'll keep encouraging the boys to take the game on and to play some entertaining cricket."
With the amount of balls in the T10 format halved from that in a T20, looking to attack from ball one is even more crucial, and that is a change that Livingstone must make. "Usually, I'll have a look at three, four or five balls before we start going. I guess in T10 we'll have a look at one and then off we go," he said.
He is second only to Glenn Phillips with the most sixes in the world (86) in T20 cricket in 2021, and over a four-month period from November 2019 to March 2020, Livingstone played more T20s than anyone else.
"Those experiences and chatting to people, you can't really buy that time and that knowledge," he said. "I've always said that one of the biggest things of franchise cricket is the time spent with the world's greats that you usually wouldn't get. It's still pretty cool for me and it's probably even cooler for the younger boys that haven't played that much cricket."
Team Abu Dhabi is full of players from around the world, including Chris Gayle, and the fact that Livingstone would be leading Gayle is a cause for some excitement for him.
"It's pretty cool. He's been a hero of mine growing up, and I guess he's probably changed the way that T20 cricket was played," Livingstone said of Gayle. "He's one of the best - if not the best - T20 player that's ever lived. It's somebody that I've watched so much growing up, and I admire the way he strikes a cricket ball, so it'll be pretty cool to be out in the middle with him at some point during the tournament."
Gayle holds the record for the fastest hundred in T20 cricket, whilst Livingstone hit England's fastest century during the home summer this year. There is every chance that one of them could become the first T10 centurion over the next fortnight too.