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Liam Livingstone struck the most devastating innings in England’s T20 history, then credited it to 10 days of isolation without picking up a bat.
Livingstone’s 42-ball century against Pakistan, including nine sixes and six fours, shaved three deliveries off Dawid Malan’s existing national record as he finally turned years of promise into an unforgettable performance.
His punishing 103 was not enough to power England to their biggest-ever chase, as they were bowled out 31 short of the tourists’ 232 for six, but the effect on the Cumbrian’s career could be transformational.
A place in the T20 World Cup squad has gone from probable to certain and he could well gatecrash the first XI too.
Yet the 27-year-old had only just emerged from a period of quarantine following the Covid-19 outbreak among England’s one-day squad earlier this month.
“It’s probably the best day of my career but it’s been weird, I haven’t thought about cricket for 10 days,” he explained.
“It’s been a strange 18 months, it was almost quite nice to chill out and forget about cricket, just have a little bit of time away. I didn’t pick a bat up for 10 days and then came back in yesterday and felt really good.
“The isolation has almost been a little reset, a refresh. It was nice to have a little break from cricket and just rest the head more than anything else. I came back in feeling really fresh and excited to get going again.”
Livingstone made his England debut back in 2017 but until now had a previous best of 36 in seven international innings, a modest return on his considerable talents.
He has gone out of his way to expand his game, taking up franchise deals in the Indian Premier League, the Pakistan Super League and Australia’s Big Bash and refining his game with England batting coaches Paul Collingwood and Marcus Trescothick. And finally, he feels like he belongs.
“It’s really nice, if you look four years ago when I first came in to this team, I think it’s polar opposites to what I am now,” he said.
“The most pleasing thing is the work I’ve put in, the travelling around the world to gain experience and maturity. Tres and Colly have worked hard to help me with a few little tweaks and I felt really good that it’s all come together.
“It’s about trying to be a little bit more in control. Throughout my career I’ve been someone who has been a little more reckless; I’ve obviously got an ability to strike a ball but the thing I needed to get better at was consistency.”
When Livingstone looks back on his glory days in the future, he may ponder the wisdom of his decision to adopt a bleached blond hairstyle in the manner of England footballer Phil Foden.
“But for now, he is simply happy not to have the dodgiest dye job in the team.
He added: “I think it’s boys being boys. We were really into the Euros and me, Jason Roy and Sammy Curran sat on the bus one day and said we’d get it done if we won.
“We got bored in the bubble and said ‘who cares? Let’s get it done anyway’. It was a couple of visits on Amazon and a bit of DIY, but thankfully it’s not too bad. It could be worse, I could look like Jase.”