Liam Livingstone: Lancashire's former captain rejects IPL offer to play Championship cricket

Liam Livingstone was away for three months last winter playing for Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League followed by four games for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL
Liam Livingstone was away for three months from February with Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League followed by four games for Rajasthan Royals

Ex-Lancashire captain Liam Livingstone has rejected an offer from Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals to concentrate on Championship cricket.

The 26-year-old Cumbrian, twice capped by England at T20 level, missed the start of last season in England to play four IPL games for the Royals.

But this time he has opted to play red-ball cricket for promoted Lancashire.

"I still have hopes of playing Test cricket. The best way to achieve it is to impress in Division One," he said.

"I loved the experience of playing in the IPL. But I have decided to put a renewed focus on first-class cricket next summer. I am committed to improving my game in all formats.

"I hugely enjoyed being part of the County Championship side last season. The lads played some exceptional red-ball cricket and I am optimistic about what we can achieve."

'Lancashire must hit ground running'

Lancashire went through the 2019 Division Two campaign unbeaten and won the title by 45 points.

"To have Liam available for the start of the season is welcome news. He is a senior member of the changing room and undoubtedly improves our side," Lancashire director of cricket Paul Allott said.

"With an enhanced focus on County Championship cricket in the early months of the 2020 season, we need to ensure we hit the ground running on our return to what will be a competitive Division One."

Like many of the country's top players, Livingstone will take a break from red-ball cricket to play in the T20 Blast for this summer's beaten quarter-finalists Lancashire, as well as in the Hundred for Birmingham Phoenix, with whom he was awarded a £125,000 contract in the draft in October.

Livingstone stepped down as Lancashire skipper in November 2018 after just one season, in which the Red Rose were relegated back to Division Two.

That enabled him to spend three months away from February to May playing for Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League followed by four games for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL,

Having missed Lancashire's opening match, after a mid-season rib injury, he ended up playing in 11 of the 14 matches, making 599 runs and taking 10 wickets at 24.90.

This time he will be available for all of Lancashire's 14 Championship games back in the top flight - and, having mutually parted company with the Royals, he will not enter the IPL draft in early December.

He is one of a number of English players to be released from IPL franchises, including Sam Billings, David Willey, Sam Curran and Joe Denly.

Livingstone has been playing with Moeen Ali, Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock for Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa.