Liam Livingstone has put his long-term development ahead of the possibility of a big T20 payday to lead a strong Lancashire contingent with the England Lions this autumn.
The 24-year-old all-rounder enjoyed a breakthrough winter with the Lions in Sri Lanka ahead of the 2017 season, and he hopes to build on that in the West Indies early next year – and first in Australia over the next couple of months.
“That’s the biggest thing, the chance to add the experience in Australia,” Livingstone said during the first day of the Lions’ pre-tour training camp in Loughborough this week.
“Last winter was all about spin, especially in Sri Lanka after Christmas. I think that added a lot to my all-round game, both as a batter and a bowler, and this year we’re going to be facing different challenges.
“You’d expect the pitches in Brisbane and Perth where we’re based to be quick and bouncy. We’ll be doing a lot of work in the nets but also playing a couple of games, and I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”
The Lions are scheduled to play a three-day match against a Queensland XI in Brisbane at the end of the red-ball section of their trip in late November, and then to play a series of matches against players competing for places in the Perth Scorchers Big Bash squad when they head west next month.
Being based in Brisbane also means they will be in the thick of the build-up to the first Ashes Test at the ‘Gabba – with the Lions bowlers set to be involved in England’s preparations for the match.
Ben Duckett is another member of the Lions’ squad who would surely have attracted offers in the various short-form tournaments that have been arranged for the next couple of months, but will instead knuckle down to the task of earning a return to the senior England set-up.
Mark Wood is on the comeback trail again after the foot problems that impeded his 2017 summer, and Tom Westley and Keaton Jennings complete a quintet of squad members who have represented England at senior level in the last 12 months.
The other 12 members of the squad include Worcestershire’s exciting pace-bowling talent Josh Tongue, who had been due to train with the Pace Programme this winter in Spain and South Africa, but received a late call to join his county team-mate Joe Clarke in Australia when Essex’s Jamie Porter was diagnosed with a small stress fracture in his back.
(Porter is also in Loughborough this week, training with Essex team-mate Paul Walter and the other four fast bowlers on the Pace Programme)
Middlesex and Somerset also have two representatives each in the Lions squad – Nick Gubbins and Tom Helm from London, and the spin twins Jack Leach and Dom Bess from the west country – while Dan Lawrence joins his Essex team-mate Westley.
But it is Lancashire who are the most strongly represented county – with three players who have come through their ranks in Livingstone, Alex Davies and Saqib Mahmood, as well as Jennings, whose move from Durham was recently confirmed.
“Obviously I spent the winter with Keats last year, and I think he’s going to be a very good addition to our dressing room,” added Livingstone.
"He’ll bring us a lot of runs but also he’s a good person to have around – cricket-wise he’s very clever, and he’s got great leadership qualities"
“He’ll bring us a lot of runs but also he’s a good person to have around – cricket-wise he’s very clever, and he’s got great leadership qualities.
“Saqib’s already played a couple of games for the Lions which shows how highly he’s thought of, and I’m especially pleased for Alex Davies to be here after what he’s been through over the last couple of years.
“He had nine months out with his knee injury, and all that time he was in the gym for two hours a day to give himself the chance of being ready for the start of last season.”
There is even more of a Lancashire flavour to the Lions camp in Loughborough this week, which will continue in Australia, as Simon Kerrigan is one of two left-arm spinners who have been invited to work alongside Leach and Bess.
Kerrigan, whose trip will be joint-funded by Lancashire and the bowler himself, will be joined by Callum Parkinson, who enjoyed a promising campaign with Leicestershire in 2017, but is originally from Bolton – with his twin brother Matthew currently in Sydney on an ECB Overseas Placement.
The Lions coaching staff for the winter, which already included Sussex’s Jon Lewis as fast-bowling coach and Gary Palmer as a batting consultant, has been further freshened in Loughborough this week by the presence of Warwickshire’s Jonathan Trott, and the Essex wicketkeeper Jamie Foster – who both asked to attend as they look to boost their own coaching experience.
Foster is working alongside Karl Krikken, the former Derbyshire wicketkeeper and coach who has become a regular deputy to the ECB’s wicketkeeping lead Bruce French, who is in Australia with the Ashes squad.
The ECB’s fielding lead Chris Taylor is working with the squad in Loughborough but will then switch his attention to the Young Lions as they prepare for the ICC Under-19s World Cup in New Zealand in early 2018.
Adam Hollioake, the former Surrey and England captain who spent some time with the Lions in the summer, will fill in as fielding coach in Australia.
England Lions squad: