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Vitality Blast 2020: Lancashire injuries a worry at start of campaign

©Cricket World

Liam Livingstone is expecting some new young stars to come to the fore during the forthcoming Vitality Blast as they settle into county cricket without the added pressure big crowds bring.

Livingstone is clear he would much rather have crowds in attendance, but Lancashire’s batting powerhouse is determined to look on the bright side of games being played behind closed doors.

The Blast will begin in that fashion later this week, with the hope of crowds being allowed back into games as Finals Day on October 3 draws closer.

The Red Rose’s opening North Group game is against Durham at Emirates Riverside on Thursday (2.30pm).

Lancashire are not the only county who have been hit by injuries and England call-ups during the opening month of this shortened summer, with Livingstone himself unavailable for the early stages of the North Group campaign.

He is with England as a T20 reserve for their three-match series against Pakistan, while Saqib Mahmood is also unavailable as he is in the main squad.

The Lightning have injury concerns over fast bowlers Luke Wood (hamstring) and Richard Gleeson (back), but England leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson is fit again after an ankle problem.

“I know from being in the bubble when England played against Ireland, it’s very different (for limited overs games without crowds),” he said.

“But it can also take the pressure off a little bit, especially for the younger lads.

“Take away the crowd and some lads playing their first season or whatever, it might be a good thing that it gives them chance to settle into a team or competition.

“But for lads who have played in Roses games with 23,500 Lancs fans and a couple from over the Pennines, it’s going to be very different.

“You see it in all sports. I watch a lot of golf, and you’ve seen that the real big names haven’t done as well.

“Someone like Rory McIlroy, who thrives off the pressure of performing in front of big crowds, has struggled a little bit.

“Certainly seam bowling wise, a lot of people are going to get opportunities they wouldn’t have got because playing five Championship games in almost five weeks after five months off is going to bring about injuries.

“One of the big factors going up a level is playing in front of a big crowd.

“It will give young boys who aren’t used to it a bit of time to settle in and get used to other pressures that come along with professional sport.

“But we’d love to have crowds. It’s one of the great things about professional sport. You get to go to work in front of 20,000 people.

“Hopefully this thing (Coronavirus) does one fairly quickly and we can get crowds back!”

All-action Livingstone - he opens the batting, bowls handy spinners and is a live-wire in the field - also believes he has an important role off the field at Emirates Old Trafford given his experience of playing around the world in various domestic leagues.

In the last 18 months, he has starred for the Lightning at home and Rajasthan Royals, Cape Town Blitz, Perth Scorchers and Peshawar Zalmi abroad.

He said: “The experiences you get make you a different player - more experienced.

“Scenarios I’d normally see once a season, I now see them four or five times a year, which is very helpful when it comes to the pressure moments.

“I want to come back and help Lancs win games, but I also see my role as improving the younger boys.

“It’s not just about developing my own game.

“That’s sort of why I missed three, four or five weeks of the season last year to go to the IPL - to learn from the best in the world and bring it back here.

“If I can help the likes of Josh Bohannon and Rob Jones become a bit more fearless and be better white ball players, we’ll see massive benefits from that.”

©Cricket World 2020