CB Series, 2006-07 February 3, 2007

Plunkett relishes chance to shine

Cricinfo staff

Liam Plunkett: 'Game by game I feel like I'm getting better and more consistent' © Getty Images
It took him the best part of three months to actually get a game, but Liam Plunkett is rapidly making up for lost time as he helps revive England's CB series ambitions.

During the Ashes series and first part of the one-dayers Plunkett did little more than carry the drinks. He'd had one brief stint with a playing brief, against the Chairman's XI at Lilac Hill before the Perth Test, but managed to chip a finger.

However, after an understandably rusty effort against Australia at Adelaide, Plunkett has picked up six wickets in the last two CB series matches and impressed with his rapid new-ball swing. He has pushed the speedometer towards 90mph, considerably quicker than he produced last summer in England.

"Obviously you want to be as quick as you can but also in control, so game by game I feel like I'm getting better and more consistent," he said. "Hopefully the pace will stay along with consistency.

"I just want to read the situation: if the pitch is quick I want to run in and hit it but yesterday there was a little bit in it so I tried to slow down a little bit and try to hit an area. I am never going to be the quickest in the team but I feel I can hit the pitch hard and that is what I do best. I've had two months getting back into cricket, been in the gym quite a lot and got lot stronger."

Plunkett handed England the perfect start as they defended 292 against Australia at Sydney by bowling Adam Gilchrist first ball. He also added the scalps of Michael Clarke and Glenn McGrath to finish with 3 for 24.

"I was trying to get it up there and swing it back into him," he reflected. "Lucky for me it was a bit fuller than expected and he missed it.

"Getting him has to be up there, doesn't it? He can change a game 'just like that' because once he gets going he's quite hard to stop. To get him first ball meant the pressure was bang on from then."

However, despite his recent efforts propelling him towards World Cup reckoning Plunkett is trying not to get carried away.

"I've not played that much cricket so I keep needing to improve and get a few more wickets. You always think 'am I going to be there?' but at the minute I am really glad to be playing cricket against Australia."

Another piece of positive news for the England camp is an improvement in Michael Vaughan's hamstring. He has missed the last five matches after injuring himself against New Zealand, at Hobart, but a spokesman has said that if he doesn't experience any reaction after training on Monday he will be available for Tuesday's meeting with the Kiwis at Brisbane.