CHENNAI: Only two cricketers born in 1993 or after have managed to hit 100 or more sixes in all T20 cricket since the beginning of January 2019. One of those two is a gimme: Nicholas Pooran (129). The other is a little bit tougher to guess. England’s Liam Livingstone (123).In fact, the 27-year-old is so efficient, so skilled at it he has earned a fancy nickname: ‘six-machine’. During this year’s Big Bash, he re-emphasised his primary skill-set, hitting 28 sixes for Perth Scorchers.
While a few others avoid embracing monikers like that, the Rajasthan Royals all-rounder doesn’t. He readily accepts that ‘six-hitting’ has been one of ‘my strengths over the last few years’. “I guess everybody has their different strengths,” he tells this daily. “It’s probably what makes cricket such an interesting game. It’s something that I have spent a lot of time working on. Being able to hit sixes gives you the ability to be a match-winner and ultimately I want to try and make myself the best player I can be and win as many games as I can for whatever team I’m playing for. Something that I’m seen of these days is a six-hitter and hopefully I can keep on developing my game and become more consistent and hit a few more sixes.”
Even if he did the hard yards in the nets to develop his brand of ‘expansive cricket’, it could gone differently had he listened to the naysayers in his formative years. “Growing up, I was never the most technical player,” he says. “I was very natural, I used to get shot down a few times for being reckless. Thankfully, I stuck to what I thought was right. I used to like hitting sixes from a very early age and that’s stood me in good stead. The person that I was at 14-15, I wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, cricket wise. A little bit dumb at times but thankfully I stuck to what I did naturally and it’s worked out in the end.”
One of the first times it worked for Livingstone, he went from being a lad from the north of England to an English record-holder. He blasted his way to a 350 in a club game for Nantwich in 2015, an innings which included 27 sixes. In the six years since, he has compiled an imposing body of work in T20 leagues but has only played four times for England across two white-ball formats. But he lays out the proper context. “It’s probably the hardest team to get into right now in world cricket if not world sport. You are not going to walk into it. You just have to take opportunities when they come around,” he says.
The pressure is also intense because there are multiple batsmen like Livingstone in the set-up right now, all waiting for a chance to stake their place, especially in a World Cup year. But the batsman is not perturbed. “You don’t think about people taking your place away, you have fun, you enjoy and you play your own game of cricket. That’s the great thing about Morgs (England captain Eoin Morgan). It’s pretty refreshing to see the way Morgs runs the team. He lets the lads be their own person.”
Another captain who came in for high praise from him is Sanju Samson, Rajasthan Royals’ new skipper. “He’s an unbelievable talent,” he says. “Very laidback approach will be great as a captain and it will be one of his strengths. Very carefree, you can see that in the way he plays his cricket which will suit especially the English boys in our team.”