Why Liam Livingstone’s huge six v Pakistan was just about the most satisfying shot ever played and also why it was not

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In a world where every shot that drops just over the rope is MASSIVE and the ones that get caught by spectators sitting in the first row are OUT OF THE GROUND, it becomes quite hard to properly acknowledge the shot played by Liam Livingstone off Pakistan’s Haris Rauf at Headingley. But let’s try.

England were 154-5 off 15 overs and Rauf put one in what is widely considered to be “the slot”.

Not one to turn his nose up at a slot delivery, Livingstone gave it the full heave and caught it exactly square on, off the sweet spot, at such an angle that the ball soared over the three tier stand behind the bowler.

It was the definitive “go fetch it” shot. It was perfect.

That isn’t even really rhetoric. While acknowledging that there are altogether too many variables for an actual, literally perfect shot to be hit, for its combination of power, timing, direction and trajectory, this one was about as close as we can remember.

There were those two uberwallops Chris Gayle played off Brett Lee at the Oval in 2009 where we had the fastest bowling meeting the hardest, cleanest hitting. They were in a similar vein, but Livingstone’s was the fantasy ‘slot’ shot, wasn’t it? When you fantasise about batting and you get a full ball, this is what you do. You give it everything and larrup it back over the bowler’s head and onto Callisto, the fourth moon of Jupiter.

But that’s precisely why we have to judge Livingstone’s shot more harshly. That’s the only thing that really tempers the satisfaction. We are talking about actual fantasy batting here so the metrics are governed only by our imaginations.

Maybe Livingstone’s played similar or even better shots before. It feels like there could have been a couple that time he made 350 off 138 balls for Nantwich. But that notion only better highlights the crucial point.

The simple truths are these: Liam Livingstone failed to hit his otherwise perfect six off the final ball of a World Cup final; Haris Rauf isn’t quick enough; Haris Rauf isn’t Australian enough.

So not completely satisfying… but still a pretty nice shot.

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  1. Pleased to see Liam Livingstone doing well, for all sorts of reasons, including that it shakes my sense of dooming him to international failure by giving him a huge build-up to my matchgoing companion at a T20I vs South Africa back in 2017… a build-up which I began as he walked past us on his way to go out and bat, and which I just about managed to finish whilst he trudged back in the opposite direction after being bowled first ball.

    One of my favourite ‘out of the ground’ cricketing memories is Mal Loye hitting balls onto the tramlines at least twice during the same day’s play at Old Trafford – it was before they turned the square so they were relatively straight hits over a fairly tall stand (I think two tiers?).

    1. The one backing onto the tram lines was two tiers but it was pretty much side on before they did the turn.

      1. Ah, yes, think it was the two-tier one (the one with the bar half-way up).

        Was definitely before the rotation of the square so must have been squarer hits than my memory is picturing.

  2. In other news, Alex Davies going to Warwickshire/Birmingham/You Bears is a bit of a surprise, no?

  3. I particularly liked the bit, on Sky commentary, when they asked for the tracking people to tell them how far the ball had gone, only to return with the answer that the ball had gone too far for them to measure, because it had gone out of the ground.

    Given that there must be some pretty clear data for more than 50% of the ball’s journey, I’d have thought that someone with a slide rule, a compass, a protractor, logarithm tables and a wet towel to put around his head cold muster a reasonable estimate for us.


  4. Another thing that I expected to be mentioned on this site, it is now though, is Matt Parkinson’s ball of the century (in ODI terms) to Imam-ul-Haq.

    The ball span 12.1 degrees!! Surely that puts him in contention for the LMCOG this year to some extent.

    1. Regardless of one particular ball, I have been really impressed by Matt Parkinson’s white ball bowling of late. He seems to have kicked on to the next level and I do hope that progress continues.

      Following the progress of a young spinner as their craft unfolds is one of the most fascinating things in cricket. It is usually a long, drawn-out process and is hardly ever straight line progress.

  5. More disappointment today as on looking at the teamsheet, Mr. Conway has departed these shores a mere two days early, denying us the chance to see Somerset pick Devon vs Cornwall.

    1. Can’t have one without the others. But the last one’s the clincher, innit. Blend that with the mechanics of Livingstone’s and you’re pretty much there.

    2. That’s as ridiculous as anything on these pages of late, which has been fairly ridiculous.

      “…Sam Glass – John’s older brother – picked up his first wicket before dismissing Hunter and Cregagh captain Aaron Johnston to complete a hat-trick, an achievement he probably assumed at the time would earn family bragging rights.”

      Brings to mind the famous “at least I’m the best player in my family” sledge (the ridiculous J. Ormond).

  6. For me, it’s that 40 minute period where ben stokes hit ten thousand runs in south africa that time

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