County cricket has been known to be around since the early 18th century. However, the championship came into existence only by 1890. One of the oldest domestic competitions in cricket, many players from around the world opt to play for one more county at some stage of their careers. Coaches advise test cricketers to gain valuable experience under tough conditions. More often than not, you come out a better cricketer under challenging conditions.
After the Vivo IPL, two Rajasthan Royals cricketers made their way to play county cricket. Liam Livingstone returned to his county Lancashire, while Ajinkya Rahane embarked on his first county stint, signing up with Hampshire. Both of them had very good outings so far, and will be threats to oppositions through the season.
Ajinkya Rahane: 119 vs Nottinghamshire
Ajinkya Rahane became the first Indian player to sign up with Hampshire. Our brand ambassador and former Rajasthan Royals captain, Shane Warne was an integral part of Hampshire during the latter part of his career. Dimitri Mascarenhas is another former Royal who played for the county. Rahane decided to gain invaluable experience from county cricket when he signed up with Hampshire last month.
On his debut, he scored 10 runs in is first innings, batting at number 3. Rahane lost his wicket to Stuart Broad, but he came out a different batsman in the second innings. Rahane looked fluent right from the start, coming in to bat with Hampshire losing both their openers very cheaply. Jinks steadied the innings with captain, Sam Northeast, and played some of his gorgeous signature strokes throughout the knock. “I’m happy with the way I batted. English conditions demand a lot of focus and application. My objective was to get the team into a good position.”
He played fairly positively as he got to his century. With Hampshire looking to set a target, he hit the accelerator during the latter part of his innings, smashing 14 fours in all.Rahane was seemingly pleased with taking the team into a comfortable position in the third innings. “It’s always the case in England. Once you get set and watch the ball closely, you can get full value for your shots. It was great batting with Sam, after we lost two early wickets.”
Rahane became the third Indian player to score a century on County debut. Piyush Chawla was the first one to do so in 2013 when he scored 112 for Somerset. The second Indian batsman to do that was Murali Vijay, for Essex in 2018. Rahane crossed both these scores, and now has the highest score by an Indian batsman on County debut.
Liam Livingstone: 69 vs Worcestershire
Lancashire were in trouble against Worcestershire’s pace battery. They were reduced to 56/3 when Liam Livingstone walked in. During his brief stint with Rajasthan Royals, Liam showcased his big-hitting capabilities quite impressively. However, he had to make a quick switch when he joined up back with Lancashire, and a watchful innings was the need of the hour.
He was the back-bone of a 98-run stand that took Lancashire past Worcestershire’s score, taking them into the lead. Liam accumulated 69 runs that included 14 boundaries. Liam has been quite handy with the ball as well.
Both Rahane& Liam will be keen to sustain their performances right through the season. Liam is an experienced campaigner in the County circuit, while Rahane has a lot of international experience in England. It should be a season that will see many more performances from both these Royals.