Liam Livingstone will make his Test debut for England against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Thursday. The series will kick off with the first Test in Rawalpindi on December 1 followed by the next two matches in Multan and Karachi.
While England played a seven-match T20I series in Pakistan prior to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, this three-match Test series will be the first time the two sides have played a red-ball fixture in the country since 2005. The series is part of the current World Test Championship period and Pakistan are still in contention to win a place at next year’s final at The Oval.
The 29-year-old all-rounder will be one of two new faces featured by captain Ben Stokes for the opening Test from the team that ended the English summer. Ben Duckett will replace Alex Lees who was dropped for this tour to partner Zak Crawley at the top of the order. Batter Harry Brook cemented his place at No. 5 position, having replaced the injured Jonny Bairstow at the Kia Oval in the final match of the South Africa series.
Livingstone was selected on this tour for his capability as a spinner along with his ball-striking which has earned him a go-to signing on the Twenty20 circuit. His first-class standards are in the high 30s: 38.36 with the bat and 36.13 with the ball. His selection in the playing XI against Pakistan is ultimately for his potential.
“He bowls off-spin, leg-spin, fields well and smacks the ball out of the park – it’s hard not to get around a player who plays like that,” head coach Brendon McCullum said on Monday as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. Eventually, the call was between him and Surrey’s batting all-rounder Will Jacks, who is an off-spinner. Livingstone got the spot in playing XI on account of offering both wrist and finger spin.
“The only real discussion we thought was worth having was whether we go with Jacksy or Livi (Livingstone). I think given the place where Livi’s going to play and as that third spinner role, it’s quite nice to have someone who turns it both ways. And quite nice the way he applies himself with the bat – very similar to Jacksy, but having that leg spin and off spin possibility with Livi was a big plus for us,” Stokes was quoted as saying by ESPNcricindo. “With Livi he’s one of those cricketers who can come on from anywhere and take a wicket when the ball’s flowing a bit the opposition’s way. I’ve already spoken to Rooty as well. I’m going to try to use him quite a lot. I think he underuses himself. He’s actually got some very good assets as an off-spin bowler. He’s been working very hard on his bowling,” he added.
Rawalpindi will host the first Test (1-5 December) before the action moves to Karachi (9-13 December) and Multan (17-21 December) for the subsequent games. England XI v Pakistan: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (w), Liam Livingstone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson and Jimmy Anderson.