Livingstone will make his debut in the first Test against Pakistan
|place: Rawalpindi Date: Thursday, December 1 (05:00 GMT)|
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All-rounder Liam Livingstone will make his Test debut in England’s first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
The 29-year-old has beaten competition from Surrey’s Will Jacks and will bat at number eight as well as providing a bowling option.
Ben Duckett will open the batting, playing his first Test since 2016, in place of the fallen Alex Lees.
The three-Test series is England’s first in Pakistan for 17 years.
England halted the tour of Pakistan after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.
They returned for a T20 series in September and October, winning 4–3.
England XI for first Test against Pakistan: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Liam Livingstone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, James Anderson.
Lancashire’s Livingstone was part of the England team that won the T20 World Cup in Australia earlier this month and has forged a reputation as one of the world’s leading white-ball cricketers.
He has not played a first-class match since September last year but featured in England’s warm-up against the England Lions in Abu Dhabi last week, hitting 36 off 23 balls and taking two wickets.
Captain Ben Stokes said Livingstone’s lack of red-ball cricket will not hurt him as he becomes the 708th man to play a Test for England.
“The ability he has with the ball and the way he plays with the bat is very much in line with the way we want to see the team play,” Stokes said.
“I don’t necessarily think not playing a red-ball game is too much for him. He’s a very natural cricketer, he’ll come out and really express himself.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him in the white ones. When he took the white pads out of his bag, he said, ‘What are these?'”
Despite Livingstone’s inclusion, England have been left with six batsmen and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes on seven.
That means just two top-line spinners in James Anderson and Ollie Robinson, with Stokes operating as the third bowler. Mark Wood misses out with the hip injury that hampered him at the end of the World Cup, but the Durham paceman should be fit for the second Test.
Stokes explained that Livingstone’s ability to spin the ball both ways – leg-spin and no-spin – gave him the edge over Surrey’s Jacks, the non-cap all-rounder.
The skipper described Livingstone as the “third spinner”, suggesting a bigger role for former captain Joe Root’s off-spinners.
“I’ve already spoken to Rooty,” Stokes said. “I’ll try to use it a lot.
“I think he was very little used. He’s actually got really good assets as a non-spin bowler. He’s been working really hard on his bowling.”
Harry Brook keeps his place in the middle order after deputizing for the injured Jonny Bairstow at the end of the summer at home, while Nottinghamshire left-back Duckett, 28, returns to win his fifth cap.
In Brook, Duckett and Livingstone, England will field three batsmen who have excelled in shorter forms of the game.
“Ducky showed here in the T20s how good he is against the bowling,” Stokes said. “I’m excited to have him at the helm.
“The way Harry has done his first-class cricket over the last year, we won’t see much of a difference here in the subcontinent. Jonny is a big miss in this Test team here, but we’re very lucky to have him. someone like Brooky to replace him.
“Livi will probably try to hit a few through the media center, no doubt.”