Liam Livingstone is confident he will be fit to play in England Lions’ third one-day match against Sri Lanka A in Kurunegala on Monday – and determined to keep the series alive.
The Lancashire batsman was restricted to a walk-on part in the second half of Saturday’s match in Dambulla after suffering severe cramp in both calves as he struggled to cope with the heat and humidity in top-scoring for the Lions for the third time in as many innings.
He stayed off the field for the first five overs of Sri Lanka’s reply for treatment, came on to bowl the 12th over – but was clearly struggling after a single delivery, and hobbled back to the pavilion after completing the over.
The 23-year-old Cumbrian acknowledges that he will need to find ways of coping with the conditions for future trips to the sub-continent – but that has all been part of his learning curve on what has been an outstanding personal tour, with 540 runs from eight innings so far in addition to his unusual combination of off-spin and leg-spin.
“I got cramp in both legs, the front of my shin and my calf, from about 80-odd onwards,” he explained. “And then trying to bowl, as soon as I pushed off on to my toes, my whole leg cramped – so there was no way I could have done it. I just think sometimes you’ve got hold your hand up and say the heat did get the better of me.
"I was speaking to the umpires and they were saying that was as humid and as hot as you’d probably play in"
“It was a little bit different to the other days. It’s been pretty hot here, and you can kind of get used to the heat. But the humidity is different. I was speaking to the umpires and they were saying that was as humid and as hot as you’d probably play in – [although] they said it can get a little bit worse. It was pretty tough.
“Also in red-ball cricket you can try to save your energy a little bit more, whereas in one-day cricket you’ve got to do a lot of running. I found it pretty tough towards the end which was a shame really, but there’s not really much I could have done about it.
“But it was only cramp, it’s loosened off now. And hopefully it will get a little bit cooler.
“Obviously 2-0 down isn’t where we wanted to be. I still think it’s a good experience for everyone, whether they’re doing well or not – as a young player you can do nothing but learn from it out here. And we’ll be doing everything we can to come back.”
The third game in Kurunegala promises to provide a couple of fresh challenges, as the Lions face a long early-morning journey to the ground from their Dambulla base, and after the match will head straight on to Colombo, the venue for the last two matches in the series.
They are following in the footsteps of some distinguished predecessors, as the Lions also played a one-day match at the Welagedera Stadium in 2012 – when James Taylor was the captain in a top six that also included Joe Root, Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
Buttler scored 119 but even that firepower was not enough, with Root stumped for a duck off the third ball of the innings as the Sri Lankans won by six wickets with more than two overs to spare.
Sam Curran is hoping to make his first appearance of the series, and Livingstone would be delighted to spend more time in the middle with Ben Duckett, after the pair put on 81 in 10 overs in one of the few positives to come out of Saturday’s defeat.
“Sometimes batting with Ducky’s quite simple because you just get off strike and let him carry on whacking it,” he added. “He was striking it so well. He’s great to bat with because you never really feel under pressure when there’s runs being scored from the other end. It was a shame he got out as we were just building a decent partnership, but I think it was the right option for him to keep going – sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t.”