Liam Livingstone has talked up his partner in crime Josh Inglis’ international credentials after the pair propelled Perth to an eight-wicket win over Sydney Thunder at Optus Stadium tonight.
The England-born right-handers combined for a 136-run partnership, their third century opening stand of the tournament, to help reel in the visitors’ sub-par total of 5-153 with 27 balls to spare.
Man-of-the-match Livingstone rode his luck after getting dropped three times by Brendan Doggett – on 32, 57 and 59 – to post his highest Big Bash League score of 78 from 49 balls.
The Scorchers (6-6) leapfrogged the Thunder (6-5-1) in fourth place on the ladder to strengthen their finals hopes with two games left.
Inglis (58 off 41 balls) notched up his fourth half-century of a breakout BBL09, moving to third in the run-scoring with 382 at an average of 31.83.
His opening partner doesn’t think it will be long before the “special talent”, who has been likened to explosive former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, is playing for Australia.
“He’s as good as I’ve seen, being able to hit gaps in the power play is a very good skill,” Livingstone said.
“You can’t really bowl at him, especially here, he uses the pace so well.
“For a young kid, he’s very talented and I don’t see why he won’t be playing for Australia, whether it be in six months or the next two or three years.
“Whenever it is, I’m sure he will play for Australia.”
Livingstone has enjoyed the freedom to play his natural game at the top of the order, given to him by coach Adam Voges.
The Livingstone-Inglis duo is the most prolific opening combination in the tournament and second best in BBL history with 500 runs and counting.
“We’ve got a lot of freedom from our coach, me and Ingo, to take it on from ball one really, try and be as sensible as we can whilst being as positive as we can,” Livingstone said.
“Once you get on a roll you just keep going until one of you gets out and then you kind of have to slow down and build another partnership.
“Thankfully when we’ve got going, once we’ve got to 30 or 40 we’ve managed to get to 100.
“Like I’ve said all along, Ingo is an unbelievable to open the batting with, he plays proper cricket shots and somehow manages to hit gaps.
“The amount of times we’ve been 16 off the first over, he’s a pretty special talent and we’re lucky to have him.”
Perth will play back-to-back home games for the first time in the tournament, with their next match against Adelaide on Friday night before a return bout against the Thunder at Sydney Showground on Sunday.
It comes after a gruelling 10-day schedule, where the team travelled or played for nine of those days.
They regain all-rounders Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner from One-Day International duties in India, while towering South African speedster Morne Morkel will replace Englishman Chris Jordan for the final regular-season match and beyond.
“I’m going to miss airports to be fair, I don’t think I’ve had two or three days without one so far,” Livingstone joked.
“I won’t know what to do with myself with two days off, but it’s obviously going to be nice to chill out a bit.
“We’ve had a pretty tough schedule so it’s nice to be still in the mix and hopefully we can get another win here on Friday night and that puts us into a great position going into the final game.”
Jordan (3-28 off four overs) did the damage with the ball for Perth, while fellow Englishman Alex Hales was easily the Thunder’s best batsman with 85.
Thunder captain Callum Ferguson felt his team’s total was about five runs below par, which wasn’t helped by a disappointed start to their bowling effort.
“We weren’t too far off, maybe five to 10. The wicket was a bit two-pace, and it wasn’t coming into the bat quite as nicely as what we’ve seen previously here,” he said.
“We just didn’t start well enough with the ball unfortunately.”