Liam Livingstone is ready to jump back on the Hundred bandwagon with Birmingham Phoenix and entertain the next generation of cricket fans.
The all-rounder was last year’s MVP for the men’s tournament, topping the scoring charts with 348 runs and also producing the highest individual score with 92 not out against Northern Superchargers.
It was not enough to help Birmingham win the inaugural edition of the Hundred, with Southern Brave clipping the wings of Phoenix in last August’s final at Lord’s, but England all-rounder Livingstone is raring to go ahead of their opener at Trent Rockets this weekend.
Straight into the final!
— The Hundred (@thehundred) August 17, 2021
He said: “It was amazing to be a part of, considering we started the tournament not knowing what it was all about. I guess the way it snowballed throughout the summer was pretty cool.
“I just loved the tournament and the entertainment factor of it. I guess that was built in from Moeen (Ali) as captain and Daniel Vettori as the coach that we want to go out and entertain people. We wanted to go out and have fun with a smile on our faces.
“We grew up as kids dreaming of being able to play in front of packed stadiums and to be able to entertain people. It is quite nice to look back and see we were inspiring the next generation to pick up a bat or ball and play cricket.
“I have certainly seen that over the last year because, even when I go home now, there is a lot more people who don’t really know about cricket but talk about the Hundred. I guess that was what the tournament was created for and it has certainly had that impact.”
Birmingham captain Ali concurred and was also one of the stars of the 2021 competition with an impressive tally of 225 runs from only seven innings.
The franchise league was created by the England and Wales Cricket Board with the aim of attracting a new audience of fans and, despite overs being ditched for this format with an innings measured by 100 balls, Ali feels it has quickly captured the imagination of non-cricket fans.
“We were a bit apprehensive because the rules are a little different,” Ali said, speaking ahead of the launch of KP Snacks’ summer cricket roadshow at the Black Prince Trust in Oval.
“Things like five-ball overs and the tactics behind it were completely different, especially at the death when you are the fielding side. I didn’t realise how quick it would be and also how good it would be to be part of, with it being so short and fast paced.
“I guess for us who play cricket, it is a little confusing but the people who don’t know cricket seem to understand it really well and get the concept straight away.
“They were the great things to come out of it and the crowds with kids there and the whole atmosphere made it feel like a family event, which was great.”
Ali had a front-row seat to witness Livingstone’s exploits in the 2021 Hundred, which helped force his way into England’s starting line-up for the Twenty20 World Cup last winter.
Another World Cup in the sprint format is on the horizon in October and, with the white-ball national team struggling for form after failing to secure a home series win this summer, there are places up for grabs in Jos Buttler’s side, and Northern Superchargers’ Harry Brook has been tipped to impress.
“When you don’t play well or you are losing, there will always be changes,” England international Ali admitted.
“Players can put their hands up in the Hundred to play in the T20 World Cup because we haven’t played so well this summer and, if someone plays outstanding, of course they will put their name up to try and get into that team.
“I think someone like Harry Brook has the potential to do that. I know he has played a couple of games but he is a brilliant player in my opinion.”
KP Snacks, Official Team Partner of The Hundred, are touring the country this summer to offer more opportunities for people to play cricket as part of their ‘Everyone In’ campaign. Visit everyonein.co.uk/about