(Photo: Getty Images)
By Andy Donley
HASEEB Hameed and Liam Livingstone would “definitely” make welcome additions to the England Ashes touring party, according to Lancashire teammate Jimmy Anderson.
Uncertainty in the England batting line-up has left a host of County hopefuls dreaming of a strong finish to the Championship season and a potential Ashes call-up this winter.
Livingstone, who made his England debut in the South Africa t20 series earlier this year, threw his name into the ring for a Test spot with a buccaneering double hundred against Warwickshire last week.
Meanwhile, Hameed has had a difficult domestic season, struggling to rekindle the form that led to him making an impressive Test debut in India last year, where he scored two fifties in three matches.
And Anderson – who surpassed 500 wickets in Tests at the Home of Cricket last week – believes both could make an impression Down Under.
“They’re being thought of and they’re highly regarded as well, I know that for a fact,” he told TCP.
“Haseeb has played Test matches, Liam has been in the England side this year in the t20s – for them, it’s about getting as many runs as possible before the end of the season.
“I’d definitely trust them in the Test team. They’ve both had a taste of international cricket, they both know what’s required, they’ve both got really good heads on their shoulders so we could do a lot worse than them.”
Before any prospective international honours, Hameed, Livingstone and Lancashire have four matches to overturn a 36-point gap to Essex at the top of the County Championship to claim an unlikely Division One title.
The loss of senior South Africans Ashwell Prince and Alviro Petersen over the last two seasons, as well as cricket director Ashley Giles before the current campaign, left the Red Rose with an inexperienced batting card and a rookie coach in club stalwart Glenn Chapple.
Despite that, Lancashire went into this week’s match against Essex at Old Trafford knowing that a victory would leave them well placed to take the title – a plan that has been scuppered somewhat by soggy weather as the match heads towards a draw.
But with Alex Davies enjoying a prolific season as an opener to join Hameed and Livingstone in a home-grown top three aged 23, 20 and 24 respectively, the signs are promising for continued success in the future.
“We might have surpassed our expectations, we might have surprised a few people as well,” said Anderson.
“To see Essex and Lancashire at the top of the division might surprise people but I was around for the start of the season and our view was that we have a very strong team.
“You’ve got Haseeb who’s probably had a disappointing season from his own point of view, but with him in that top three you’ve got three local lads who have all come through the academy.
“It’s a great thing for the club to see, and they’ve done brilliantly well.
“We have a really strong batting line-up and we’ve got some top bowlers so we knew we could put in a challenge. It was just a case of staying consistent throughout the year.
“That’s something we’ve done so far and hopefully that can continue with this push towards the end of the season.”
Anderson himself is having a stunning 2017, taking 51 wickets from 12 first-class matches at 16.96 before the start of the Lord’s Test. Not bad for a 35-year-old. Fifteen of those wickets came in a five-match stint with Lancashire at the start of the season, as England focused on the Champions Trophy.
And despite now being 14 years on from his Test debut against Zimbabwe, Anderson believes he is still improving as a bowler, and predicted he still has a few more years of international cricket to give.
“There’s no reason why I can’t play till I’m 40,” he added.
“Something all bowlers need is a bit of nous and savvy, and I think I’ve got that now.
“I’ve worked on trying to be as skilful a bowler as I possibly can be. I’m now as skilful and consistent as I’ve ever been and that’s why I think I’m as good a bowler as I’ve ever been – but I don’t know whether I’ve peaked yet.
“You never stop learning. The more I can get into my brain, the more I can give on the field.
“My body feels fine, if anything you get used to it. I bowled 50-odd overs at Headingley and the next day I got out of bed pretty well.
“The hardest part is the mental side of the game, the scrutiny, the pressure. At the moment I still enjoy that, and I think that when I stop enjoying it, that’s when I’ll stop.”
Jimmy Anderson was speaking on behalf of BRUT, the iconic men’s grooming range. Follow @BRUTforMen