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It isn’t about personal figures....It is all about team results - Liam Plunkett England

England's Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli
England's Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli
©Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
 

In-form Liam Plunkett returns to his native north-east laughing off the idea of being England’s tournament talisman.

  • Liam Plunkett has played in four of England’s five wins and not featured in their three defeats
  • Plunkett – now at Surrey – started his county career at Durham and knows The Riverside well

 

The absence of the popular pace bowler has been a common factor in all three losses for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup hosts, while he has featured in four of their five successes.

He claimed three wickets in the crucial 31-run win against India on Sunday, responding to his latest recall with the wickets of Virat Kohli, century-maker Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant.

And with victory over New Zealand at The Riverside on Wednesday set to guarantee England a semi-final spot, Plunkett will expect to retain his place for what is another critical encounter.

Is it simply a case of he plays and England win? “It is nice to have that,” Plunkett joked. “Actually, I think it’s just the way things have worked out, but it is nice to play and to play a part in a winning team.

“The India game was like a final for us so the pressure was on. Nobody was there in our dressing room celebrating afterwards because we know we need to win again and get the momentum going. New Zealand will be like another final.

“I don’t think we were more nervous than usual. The best thing about us is the way we approach our cricket. We don’t go into our shells. If we did, we would go off into the distance.

“We are told to play positively, express ourselves and if we perform anywhere near our best, we will win games. New Zealand are a good team, right up there, but I think we are ready for it and we can be positive having just beaten one of the best teams in the competition.”

Plunkett’s domestic career has taken him gradually further south, from Durham to Yorkshire then Surrey, in south London. England will certainly not lack for local knowledge because Mark Wood and Ben Stokes are still Durham players.

Like Wood, Plunkett was vulnerable even as a member of the squad to the late qualification of Jofra Archer, and he admitted pacing the room in a state of nervous tension before national selector Ed Smith confirmed his position in the fifteen.

Captain Eoin Morgan recognised Plunkett’s ability to take wickets after the new ball bursts with pace and variations, when he plotted England’s way back from the disappointment of 2015.

The bowler admits that he struggled at times following a meteoric introduction to international cricket which took in the 2007 World Cup, and he fell well behind for a place in the next two tournaments.

“I am disappointed when I’m not playing, but it isn’t about personal figures,” Plunkett said. “It is all about team results and asking whether I can keep improving even at 34.

“I don’t think anyone sulks when they are not playing. People will know a player left out is frustrated, but you can’t show it. It will be great now to get back up to the north. I love that part of the country and I know the ground.”

©Cricket World 2019