Liam Livingstone praises England spinner Rehan Ahmed as ‘exceptional talent’

By Sports Desk December 07, 2023

Teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed has shone for England in the Caribbean to such an extent that Adil Rashid’s absence has gone unnoticed, according to all-rounder Liam Livingstone.

Rashid is arguably the greatest white-ball bowler England have ever produced and, even though he has previously intimated he has many more years left, the double World Cup winner turns 36 in February.

He will be back for the T20 series against the Windies this month after being rested for the ODIs, but the hole left by the Yorkshireman has been filled seamlessly by Ahmed.

Ahmed is England’s youngest senior male player in all three formats and has furthered his blossoming reputation against the Windies by recording identical figures of 10-1-40-2 in two ODIs in Antigua.

Livingstone believes he is getting the rub of the 19-year-old’s reliability after taking three wickets with his own spin on Wednesday, where England’s win set up a series decider in Barbados on Saturday.

“The flexibility that we’ve got – Rehan has obviously come in and replaced Rash, we don’t even know that Rash isn’t here,” Livingstone said.

“Rehan’s been incredible for us, he’s an exceptional talent we’ve got coming through.

“What one of our strengths has been for years is the depth we have, not only in our batting but our bowling as well. As a spin department we’ll be happy with (the win).”

With Rashid out of the side and Moeen Ali likely to become a T20 specialist, Livingstone is now one of the senior players in the set-up and is keen to take more responsibility.

“Mo and Rash have been incredibly supportive and helpful of me bowling over the last couple of years,” the 30-year-old said.

“I guess it’s my turn to kind of take that over from them and maybe try and help Rehan and (fellow spinner Will) Jacks along the way.”

By his own estimation, Livingstone is currently a bowler who bats rather than the other way around as his runs have dried up since ending the English summer with a flourish against New Zealand.

Following a sparkling unbeaten 95 at the Ageas Bowl in September, the Cumbrian has a top-score of 28 in his last nine innings, while he averaged a paltry 10 in six knocks during England’s miserable World Cup.

Asked to pinpoint where he might be going wrong, Livingstone said: “If I had the reason I’d have probably changed it by now. I keep turning up to training, trying as hard as I can.

“I guess maybe just try to put a little bit less pressure on myself and go out and enjoy myself like I have done my whole career. It only takes one innings to change it around.

 

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“I’ve had it before and I’m sure when things do change around, I’ll look back on this time in my career as something that was probably a massive learning curve for me.”

Even if he is in a trough with what first brought him into England’s limited-overs sides, Livingstone is happy to provide an increasingly useful option with the ball.

“Being able to affect the game and getting key wickets for us at key times, is probably a little bit more satisfying than getting runs at certain times,” Livingstone added.

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