Livingstone hits century for England Lions
Liam Livingstone continued his excellent form for the England Lions today with an outstanding century on the opening day against Sri Lanka A.
Livingstone made the first century of England Lions’ tour of Sri Lanka in fierce Dambulla heat on the first day of their second four-day match against Sri Lanka A.
The Lancashire batsman, who scored 59 in the Lions’ victory in the opening game of the series in Kandy, hardly had the energy to celebrate when he reached three figures midway through the evening session by punching through the covers for his 11th boundary.
He had to be draped in iced towels during the tea interval, and suffered cramp in his right wrist, but the 23-year-old Cumbrian reached his third first-class century from 133 balls.
Reflecting on his century, Livingstone said: “That’s by far the hottest I’ve ever batted in. I suppose that’s what we do our winter training for, to get prepared for those conditions. It’s a tough place to bat for a long time but it’s our job to be in the right condition to do it.
“I was pretty hot when I came off for tea – the guys had some towels in buckets of ice. I think we had to run three twos in three balls and I nearly keeled over. But that’s the reason you do your training. That’s where your hard yards in the gym…finally you see that they’re worthwhile. It’s all part of the challenge of playing out here. You’ve just got to embrace it and get on with it, and try your best to get through and be as fit as you can.”
He fell shortly afterwards, one of seven victims for the uncapped left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpukamara, and the Lions were grateful to an unbroken last-wicket stand of 26 between their own spinners Ollie Rayner and Jack Leach to steer them to 339 for nine at the close - with Tom Westley the only other batsman to make a half century.
Keaton Jennings had won an important toss and chosen to bat, as in Kandy. He then played the leading role in an opening stand of 49 with Haseeb Hameed, before the Lancashire opener steered Asitha Fernando to second slip in the 11th over.
Jennings fell caught behind to the same bowler for 44 from 52 balls, leaving the Lions wobbling at 77 for three.
As in Kandy, Livingstone joined Westley in an important fourth wicket partnership, first steering the Lions through to lunch and then picking up the pace in the afternoon session.
Westley, who made 95 in the Lions’ warm-up match in Colombo and 97 in Kandy, again timed the ball sweetly, especially off the spinners, to stroke 68 from 105 balls before he was bowled by Pushpakumara – who had briefly switched to bowling from over the wicket, and turned one from outside leg stump to clip the off.
But that was the only wicket the Lions lost between lunch and tea as Ben Foakes joined Livingstone in a fifth-wicket stand of 83.
Livingstone reached his 50 from 82 balls just before the interval, then accelerated after the break with three consecutive boundaries off Lahiru Gamage – two powerful whips wide of mid-on, before he steered a high full toss through the slips to third man.
Livingstone was in the 90s at the time so it was Sam Curran who congratulated him when he reached his century. But Livingstone fell in the next over and there was no repeat of the Lions’ lower-order rally in Kandy as both Curran brothers and Toby Roland-Jones fell cheaply to spin.
It was not only the heat, but the experience of facing three Sri Lankan spinners on a helpful pitch even on day one that made this an especially satisfying innings for Livingstone.
“It’s very different to England,” he added. “We’ve had exposure to it against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi before Christmas and then in the warm-up game and the first Test here in Kandy. But this pitch is a lot drier than the first one in Kandy was. So hopefully we’ve got a decent first innings score, and our spinners can make use of the pitch.”
After scoring 84 in the warm-up game in Colombo, and 59 in the first innings in Kandy, Livingstone has been one of the big successes of the tour so far.
“I was excited to come out here to the sub-continent and test myself on different pitches,” he confirmed.
“To put in a few good performances and help the team get victories in the sub-continent, that’s the biggest pleasing thing for me.”