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Steven Croft backs Liam Livingstone to make his England debut

Steven Croft backs Liam Livingstone to make his England debut

Steven Croft on Liam Livingstone's international future

Steven Croft has backed Liam Livingstone to make the step up to full international white ball cricket this summer, describing his Lancashire team-mate as “a hell of a player”.

Livingstone has enjoyed a stunning winter with the England Lions, most recently in both four-day and one-day cricket in Sri Lanka. He has scored runs and taken wickets, bamboozling the hosts with a mixture of leg and off-spin.

The 23-year-old, who posted two centuries in a first-class match at Dambulla last month, is now in Dubai preparing for tomorrow’s (FRIDAY) start of the North v South three-match one-day series.

Earlier this week, Lions coach Andy Flower said of the Cumbrian: “If he has a strong North-South Series, I can see him pushing for an international place fairly soon in the limited overs forms.”

And Red Rose captain Croft believes the Zimbabwean has a point.

Lancashire's Liam Livingstone in action for England Lions

He said: “I don’t see why not. Livi’s compared well to a few players who’ve played in the recent past. He’s had a strong winter behind him and a strong county season last year. If he gets the nod, I don’t think it’s too left field a shout.

“He’s got magnificent potential. He hits the ball very hard, he can catch and bowls well too. He’s a hell of a player. If he does get that call, it will probably be because he’s got some more runs at the start of the year. Then, it wouldn’t be a shock in anyone’s eyes.”

It has been quite a 12 months for Livingstone.

This time last year, he hadn’t even made his first-class debut, although he was a regular in Lancashire’s title winning NatWest T20 Blast team of 2015. Now, he has four hundreds in a haul of 1,145 runs from 18 first-class matches as well a number of impressive one-day and T20 showings behind him.

“We all knew what Haseeb Hameed could do, and Livi was pretty close behind him,” said Croft. “I think he probably got overlooked a little bit last year. In Championship cricket, he opened a lot of eyes.

“I think everyone knew he was a good ball striker and a good athlete - more of a one-day player - but he probably had a stronger four-day season. It was great to see him do well in Sri Lanka in both forms, and with bat and ball. He bowls really well in the nets, but perhaps he just needed some game overs. Having such a strong spin line-up at Lancs, he probably didn’t get that.

“But he’s done really well this winter. We’re really pleased for him, and it gives us some more headaches.”

Liam Livingstone in action for Lancashire County Cricket Club in the NatWest T20 Blast

One surprise to many was Livingstone’s ability to switch from leg-spin to off-spin whilst on Lions duty. Not for Croft, however.

He added: “He’s always bowled leg-spin, but when he was younger he broke both his wrists, and he struggled a bit. So he bowled off-spin. He then got his confidence and strength back to bowl leg-spin again.

“In the nets, he usually bowls both and spins it a lot. I think he’s done it in a couple of friendlies for us. So to do it in a game for the England Lions, it’s every credit.

“To have the ability to switch to off-spin if a left-hander comes in is a really good weapon.”

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