Liam Livingstone is a minor doubt for England’s opening fixture of the men’s T20 World Cup against West Indies on Saturday after suffering a finger injury during their first warm-up match against India in Dubai.
Livingstone was injured while dropping a catch at deep midwicket during England’s seven-wicket defeat, when Ishan Kishan pulled Chris Jordan into the leg side. Livingstone appeared to lose the ball in the lights – which were not as bright as in most internationals, with the game played at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai – and immediately looked in pain, with swelling visible on the little finger of his left hand.
He left the field alongside England’s physio, with Sam Billings coming on as a substitute fielder, and took no further part in the match. An England spokesperson said that the injury would be assessed “in [the] next 24 hours” once the swelling had gone down. In the short term, he appears unlikely to play a part in Wednesday’s warm-up match against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
Moeen Ali, who lifted England to a competitive 188 for 5 thanks to an innings of 43 not out off 20 balls, played down the concern. “I think he’s alright,” he said. “I think it’s just bruising on the back of the hand but I think he’ll be fine.
“Obviously it was a bit of a scare at the time but he said it was fine, so hopefully he’s all good. He’s a brilliant player – he’s been playing really well over the last couple of years. Hopefully he can carry that form into the World Cup and I feel like it’s going be a big stage for him.”
Livingstone had earlier hit 30 off 20 balls including four fours and a straight six from No. 5, before taking 1 for 10 in his two overs including the wicket of Virat Kohli. He is one of England’s three spin options in their World Cup squad and again displayed his versatility with the ball, generally bowling legbreaks to India’s right-handers and offbreaks to their left-handers.
His injury may mean England avoid having to make a difficult selection decision ahead of their opening fixture of the tournament. They opted to rest Eoin Morgan on Monday, who will return to the side as captain, and with Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow all certain to start, they would have to leave out one of Livingstone, Moeen or Dawid Malan, or change the balance of their side by dropping a seamer in order to accommodate him.
Livingstone has only played eight T20 internationals but it will be a significant blow to England if his injury proves to be serious. He was the standout short-form batter in the English summer, averaging 54.46 and striking at 167.41 in 20 innings across England’s T20I series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the Hundred and the T20 Blast. Despite a lean run in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals, he offers a vital all-round option in the squad, not least with Ben Stokes and Sam Curran both missing the World Cup.
Moeen, meanwhile, continued from where he had left off in the IPL, having hit 37 not out off 20 balls in Chennai Super Kings’ victory against Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders in Friday’s final, and said that he had been keen to keep his run of form going. “Eoin asked me if I was happy to play or if I wanted to play this game, considering we only just played the other day,” he said. “I feel like I’m playing well, so I wanted to keep playing. I think Eoin will come back in the next game.”
Moeen was a key man for Chennai with the bat, averaging 25.50 and striking at 137.30 while generally batting at No. 3 or 4. He said that he had “loved” the responsibility he had been given with the bat, but conceded that with England’s top-order strength, he might not have such a clearly defined role in the World Cup.
“I absolutely loved it,” he said. “Obviously when you win a competition like the IPL it’s amazing and with the role I was given, I felt like I was quite important to the team. I’m just grateful that I played and did pretty well for them. As a team I thought we were great – we had great fun. I felt like I learned a lot with the experienced players that we had.
“The reality [is that] there are so many good players, if you look at the team we [England] have and the batters that we have – it’s quite scary, actually. My role could change but the good thing is I feel like I could play any type of role. If a chance does come, I can bat No. 6 or 7 [or] I can bat up the order, so I’m just trying to get myself ready and be in a good frame of mind. Whatever role I’m given, I’m hopefully going to do well in.”