Liam Livingstone hopes his and his team's six-hitting has helped get youngsters interested in cricket during The Hundred; Livingstone was named the Player of The Hundred after a series of brilliant innings.
Saturday 21 August 2021 21:42, UK
Birmingham Phoenix star Liam Livingstone believes The Hundred has brought cricket to a younger generation of fans - and hopes his and his team's six-hitting exploits have played a part in that.
Phoenix sealed top spot in the table and a place in Saturday's final at Lord's with a thumping win over Northern Superchargers at Emerald Headingley on Tuesday as Livingstone (92 not out off 40 balls) struck 10 sixes to take his tally of maximums in the tournament to a leading 23.
Phoenix captain Moeen Ali - made available by England to play in the final against Southern Brave - has amassed 12 sixes, while 19-year-old team-mate Will Smeed has totalled 10 for the Edgbaston side, who are now on a run of five consecutive wins.
Livingstone says the standard of cricket throughout The Hundred has been "unbelievable" and feels the competition will only get "bigger and better".
He told Sky Sports: "The biggest thing is the amount of young kids wearing their team's shirts and that there are young girls and families, which we don't usually see at T20 Blast games.
"The average age of the crowd is much lower than we have seen before. I guess that was the point of The Hundred - to inspire a new generation to take up cricket.
"From what I've seen and from the people I have spoken to, there is a lot more interest in cricket than there was before the tournament.
"The final is a one-off game but what you can't take away from us is the fact we have had a great tournament.
"We have entertained lots of crowds, which is ultimately what we wanted to do. Hopefully we have inspired some youngsters to want to go out and slog a few sixes.
"The tournament has got bigger and stronger and I can only see it getting even bigger and better from here.
"The standard of cricket has been unbelievable and there are going to be a lot of high-profile overseas players available next year."
It is so good to see kids enjoying watching cricket and, who knows, maybe in the years to come we will see a lot of cricket on the streets rather than people kicking footballs.
Livingstone - who scored an England-record 42-ball hundred in a T20 international against Pakistan earlier this summer - has enjoyed the speed of games in The Hundred and its rule changes.
"It's still new to us and even though it's only a ball less [from a normal over] it's so much quicker. I think that's the best bit about the game," said the 28-year-old.
"The new batter being on strike every time there is a wicket has been a great rule and even more so the timings and having to bring a man up in the field if you are not finished on time.
I still don’t think we are there at the moment. We have only played eight or nine games and we don’t know what a good score is or if there is a benefit to batting or bowling first.
"There is no dawdling about and everyone has to get into position as we know if you are not done on time then you get penalised for it. The new rules have worked."
Looking ahead to the final, Livingstone added: "We don't really do a lot of analysis. We have done really well thinking about ourselves. We know what our strengths are and what we have done well.
"We have a good group of young boys - some young flair to go with the old experienced heads. We have a great mix and a lot of talent.
"There is a lack of fear. We have been given a very free role by our coaches in this tournament and by Mo [Moeen]. Our young boys have come in with absolutely no fear and played their own game.
"To be able to play in the first Hundred final will be a great occasion and something we will remember for years to come.
"I'm sure in 30 years when we sit around and all have a beer it will be something we remember as something big in our careers."
Watch the finals of The Hundred live on Sky Sports from 2.30pm on Saturday.