Liam Livingstone is having the season of his life. First, he established himself in the England white-ball side, a difficult thing to do. Now, his Hundred campaign is going from strength to strength. Promoted to captain in the absence of Moeen Ali, Livingstone has taken the role in his stride and led from the front.
Tonight, Phoenix cruised to victory, winning by eight wickets with 26 balls to spare. And Livingstone was at the centre of it.
Livingstone’s side looked in deep trouble when he came on to bowl with the score on 88 for 0, and Chris Lynn and Tom Kohler-Cadmore finding the boundary at will. However, Kohler-Cadmore’s treatment of Pat Brown was savage, and the Phoenix bowler was out of the attack, having been hit for three sixes and two fours in the space of his set of five.
The Northern Superchargers were the first team to hit 200 in the competition, and they were on course to break their record. Livingstone brought himself on, and within three balls, he took the vital wicket of Chris Lynn, who sliced it to short third-man.
After that, it started to get easier for Phoenix; Kohler-Cadmore was starved of the strike and would eventually be run out off the final ball of the innings for 71 from 44 balls.
Wickets fell at regular intervals from the other end, and Livingstone was the pick of the bowlers with three for 25, then with Benny Howell (2 for 18) and Adam Milne (2 for 24). However, what had looked like an almost impossible chase turned out to be a target of 144 to secure a spot in Saturday’s final.
The Phoenix top order is full of power hitters that have launched their side towards more complex tasks than the one tonight. When David Willey bowled Will Smeed without scoring, though, it must have caused some nerves on the Phoenix bench.
Their captain Livingstone, who came in at three, appears to be made for the big occasions. Along with Finn Allen, who is no mug with the bat, they set about targeting spectators in the second tiers of the stands. The crowd had more chance of catching Livingstone than the fielders, and together, Livingstone added 106 from just 51 balls.
Livingstone carried on, and the sixes kept coming; ten would eventually come from his bat from an unbeaten innings of 92. No bowler was immune from the pummelling the Phoenix batsmen gave them. It was a bad night to be a bowler.
Birmingham Phoenix now avoid a tricky eliminator at The Oval on Friday and, with the way they play fearless cricket, it would be difficult to back anyone to beat them.