Teenage star Rehan Ahmed shone so much for England in the Caribbean that Adil Rashid’s absence went unnoticed, according to all-rounder Liam Livingstone.
Rashid is arguably the greatest white-ball bowler England has ever produced and although he has previously hinted that he still has many years left, the two-time World Cup winner will turn 36 in February.
He will be back for the T20 series against the Windies this month after being rested for the ODIs, but the void left by the Yorkshireman has been seamlessly filled by Ahmed.
Ahmed is England’s youngest senior male player in all three formats and has further added to his growing reputation against the Windies by posting identical figures of 10-1-40-2 in two ODIs in Antigua.
Livingstone believes the 19-year-old’s reliability will stand him in good stead after he took three wickets with his own spin on Wednesday, where England’s victory in Barbados on Saturday marked a decisive series victory.
“The flexibility we have – Rehan has obviously come in and replaced Rash, we don’t even know Rash isn’t here,” Livingstone said.
“Rehan has been incredible for us, he is an exceptional talent that we have utilized.
“One of our strengths for years has been the depth we have, not just in batting but also in bowling. As a spin department we will be happy with (the win).”
With Rashid out of the side and Moeen Ali likely to become a T20 specialist, Livingstone is now one of the most experienced players in the squad and is keen to take on more responsibility.
“Mo and Rash have given me incredible support and help with my bowling over the last few years,” said the 30-year-old.
“I guess it’s my turn to take that from them and maybe try and help Rehan and (fellow spinner Will) Jacks with that.”
By his own assessment, Livingstone is currently a bowler who is more likely to bat than the other way round, as his runs have dried up since he ended the English summer with a success against New Zealand.
After a brilliant 95 games unbeaten at the Ageas Bowl in September, the Cumbrian has a top score of 28 in his last nine innings, while he averaged a paltry 10 in six at bats during England’s miserable World Cup.
Asked where he might be making a mistake, Livingstone said: “If I had the reason for it, I probably would have changed it by now. I keep going to training and try as hard as I can.
“I guess maybe I’ll just try to put a little less pressure on myself and go out and enjoy myself like I have throughout my career. It only takes one inning to change it.
“I’ve had this before and I’m sure that when things change I’ll look back on this time in my career as something that was probably a huge learning curve for me.”
Despite being in a slump with what originally got him into England’s limited-overs teams, Livingstone is happy to be able to offer an increasingly useful option with the ball.
“Being able to influence the game and get important wickets for us at crucial moments is probably a bit more satisfying than getting runs at certain times,” Livingstone added.