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England v India

‘Play the beast’ – Warne, Vaughan advocate for Liam Livingstone’s inclusion in England’s Test squad

warne livingstone
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan have both called for the introduction of Liam Livingstone to the England Test side.

Speaking after England’s innings victory at Leeds and before Sunday’s squad announcement, Warne argued that if Jos Buttler were to miss the fourth Test of the series – which has since been confirmed – he would pick Livingstone as his replacement.

Warne, speaking on Sky Cricket’s coverage of the Test, said: “If Buttler does go to be with his wife, is there any chance Livingstone could come in to the Test side?

“He averages 40 in Test [first-class] cricket, he’s in unbelievable touch, playing on a flat wicket at The Oval, I just think it might be time that he comes in and [England] play ‘The Beast’.”

Livingstone has arguably been the star of the 2021 English summer. Against Pakistan, he hit the quickest T20I century – his first in international cricket – by an Englishman in a breakout series for the Lancashire batsman. He was later named the player of the series in the men’s Hundred, ending the competition with 348 runs at 58 with a strike-rate of 178.46.

Livingstone, 27, has come close to playing Test cricket in the past. He was part of the 16-man squad that toured New Zealand in 2018 – the last England squad picked before Ed Smith’s ascension to the role of national selector.

At that point in his career, Livingstone averaged 45.91 in first-class cricket – a level he has struggled to maintain since. In 2018, Livingstone failed to pass 50 all season and while he returned to somewhere near his best form in 2019 (he averaged 46.07 across the year) his recent returns have dropped off a cliff in red-ball cricket. In 2021, he averages 10.83 from five games.

In the end, Chris Silverwood included Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence as the squad’s back-up batsmen and Sam Billings as the spare wicketkeeping option after Jonny Bairstow, who is set to retake the gloves in Buttler’s absence.

Warne is not the only former player who has advocated the introduction of Livingstone. Warne’s 2005 Ashes adversary Michael Vaughan tweeted his support for Livingstone’s Test credentials minutes after England’s squad announcement.

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