By Liam Plunkett – @Liam628
Last Updated: 13/01/18 11:19am
In his first column for Sky Sports, England seamer Liam Plunkett discusses his Test ambitions, pace bowling, T10 cricket and more ahead of the ODI series against Australia…
I caught highlights of the Ashes in between playing cricket and spending some time in the States and it would definitely have been nice to get a call-up. That said, if you told me that at 32 and after the period I went through, that I would be where I am now I would have snapped your hand off.
In the back of your mind, you always think ‘if I’d have played I would have done well’ and I would still love to play Test cricket, I think I am in my prime and more consistent than I have ever been, so let’s see what happens.
Right now I’m focused on the one-day series and I feel in good shape. I’ve played a bit of cricket over the winter in the Bangladesh Premier League and then in the T10 in Sharjah and then got a couple of wickets in the warm-up game on Thursday, so it now feels like I’m really into the tour.
Plunkett claimed 2-52 in England’s warm-up win over a Cricket Australia XI
2017 was a really good year for me in one-day cricket, mainly because I stayed fit and was able to play a vast majority of the games.
It was the best I had felt in my career and I knew what my role was. I just tried to keep things simple, not do anything spectacular, and the wickets came off the back of that.
I feel like an established part of the XI now but I am still looking over my shoulder because I know that we have talented players waiting in the wings. I need to keep getting better to keep my spot – I have worked hard to get where I am but I need to keep learning.
You have to find new tricks, such as different types of slower balls, cutters, and bouncers. If you run in and bowl seam up or hit a length then people will adjust. Players sweep pace now, getting down and looking to hit you over fine leg or short third man, so you do have to mix it up.
I used to open the bowling but I don’t really swing it too much anymore so I like to bowl in the middle overs. I feel that if you can take wickets in that period when people are knocking the ball around and trying to get settled, you can limit the damage later on.
Plunkett was the fourth-highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2017, with 36 at 22.47
I am not sure how the wicket is going to be at the MCG as there is a bit of rain about but hopefully there is a bit of pace and bounce – I’ve got my fingers crossed! However, as an ODI bowler I expect wickets to be flat and if the ball does anything at all, I am absolutely thrilled.
There’s a lot of talk about English fast bowlers at the minute. We have a great system in place for the seamers – Kevin Shine has worked a lot with me, for example – but you also want these young guys to figure stuff out for themselves.
You don’t want to tinker too much with people’ actions as bowlers generate pace in different ways – some guys are really strong and get speed from there, while others are snappy and whippy.
You need to keep individuality and nurture that. We want guys who bowl quickly differently.
Figuring stuff out also goes with knowing your body, something you get better at as you get older. For example, I know the difference between a tear and a strain but as a young bowler who may not have played too much you might think you have pulled something when you are going to be fine.
We’ll be seeing lots of young bowlers in the Under-19 World Cup, a tournament I really enjoyed playing in in Bangladesh in 2004. It made me feel like a professional cricketer as it was run so well.
A lot of the players had already played for their counties, while Ravi Rampaul had already played for the Windies’ senior team. I loved the knockout format and playing against different countries. There is no better feeling than playing the best guys at your age.
England U19 vs Namibia U19s
January 14, 2018, 9:25pm
As I mentioned earlier, this winter I played some T10 cricket for Kerala Kings in the UAE. It’s a format that I think is here to stay but it needs to be on decent wickets. People don’t want to turn up and see the ball seaming and swinging everywhere and have a team bowled out for 45!
We chased 132 down in the final off nine overs, so what’s not to like about that! The ball was flying into the stands and the crowd loved it.
Eoin Morgan was on my team and he hit it beautifully. He had a couple of weeks off after that but then played very nicely in our warm-up game, so looks like he has brought his form with him.
Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales share a joke during the T10 League in Sharjah
Australia’s captain Steve Smith is also a fine player – he is in a purple patch right now but this is a different format and we have a few lads coming into the squad who haven’t bowled at him.
You can obviously bat time in one-dayers but there comes a point where you have to score so with him looking to do that hopefully it will help us get him out.
He likes to fidget and move across his crease so you just have to focus on what you want to do and not get distracted. It’s just about sticking to your plans.
Liam Plunkett will be blogging for Sky Sports throughout the ODI series.