England fast bowler Liam Plunkett is getting married in a few weeks’ time, but as with so many weddings, it is the bride-to-be who is doing most of the arranging. “I just say yes or no and she just ploughs away,” Plunkett says. “She is so organised.”
Things had been running smoothly on the wedding front. Plunkett and his fiance, Emaleah, had arranged their wedding so it didn’t clash with the white-ball portion of England’s tour of Sri Lanka, 65 guests had booked flights over from America, where she is from, and everything was set. That was until the Sri Lankan board changed the tour dates and suddenly, the wedding was in the middle of the ODI series.
Too late to change plans, Plunkett will miss the first three matches but will head to Sri Lanka two days after the wedding to join up with the squad for the final two games in Kandy and Colombo. “It’s one of the biggest days of my life and I’m so excited for that,” Plunkett tells Cricbuzz. “But I am happy they want me to be part of the squad ahead of the World Cup.” He and Emaleah will get a honeymoon, albeit slightly delayed, with ten days in the Maldives booked for early December.
Plunkett’s inclusion in England’s squad despite being unavailable for part of the series is a measure of how important he has become to the ODI side. Since the start of 2017, he has taken 54 wickets in 29 matches at 23.83 and is Eoin Morgan’s Mr. Dependable in the middle-overs. With his hit the deck, back of a length style, Plunkett has been able to both contain and take wickets.
, assets so vital to fielding teams in these rarefied days of batsmen running amok. He is a certainty for next year’s World Cup squad.
But things have not always been so good at the international level. Two years after making his First-Class bow for Durham, he was in England’s Test team with a debut in Lahore at the end of 2005, the series after England had just famously won the Ashes at home for the first time in an age. But Plunkett was in and out of the team over the next two years, selected for the ill-fated Ashes trip of 2006/07, when England were whitewashed by a rampant Australia, but didn’t play.
“You’d never take that back,” he says now of the experience. “For someone to say you’re going to be in an Ashes squad, you’d have snapped their hand off. It got me used to the pressure cooker of how cricket is, how you’ve got to perform and that helped me massively, but I didn’t play too much, I was in and out.”
Around that time, Plunkett was advised to change his action. Looking back, he says England’s coaches including the bowling coach Troy Cooley, “tried to change something that didn’t need to be changed”. Battling with his bowling, Plunkett went back to Durham and found things far tougher than he had imagined. “Sometimes when you’re young, you come back and you think ‘Well, I’ve been playing for England’ and I’m just going to perform for Durham and it didn’t work like that.”