England v Sri Lanka: Liam Plunkett reveals kidney offer to father that put his career at risk


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The Independent Online

As the new England team arrived in Yorkshire for the second Test against Sri Lanka which starts at Headingley on Friday, Liam Plunkett reflected on his own international revival, which has come about after he moved south from Durham to play for the county.

That decision came in the aftermath of a family crisis, and his recall after seven years in the Test wilderness came as a reward after his father Alan had turned down Plunkett’s offer to donate a kidney.

It was in the months before he was dropped by England in 2007, when his father was spending 20 hours a week on a dialysis machine, that Plunkett offered to help him.

His father turned him down in order to give him the chance to continue his career. Now, at the age of 29, he has been trusted to help revive England’s fortunes after the Ashes debacle in the winter.

Plunkett fell out of favour at Durham but, mindful of his father’s health, he would not leave the county until another donor had been found. His subsequent move to Yorkshire brought about a dramatic return to form and when he takes the field in Leeds, his father will be in the crowd to watch him.

“I offered him my kidney a while back, and he’s had a transplant now so he’s healthy,” he said. “But you’d do that at the drop of a hat for your old man, wouldn’t you?

“He didn’t take one, because I was young and he wanted me to play cricket for as long as I could. He wanted me to play for England.”

Such was the relief when the operation was successful that Alan was not present for his son’s comeback at Lord’s because he had finally been able to book a holiday.

Plunkett admitted: “He said to me on the phone the other day, ‘I honestly thought you probably wouldn’t play for England again. You’ve proved me wrong, and I’m over the moon for you’.”

Meanwhile, Australia have turned to their former arch nemesis for spin bowling advice. Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan spinner, was no-balled for throwing in the 1995 Boxing Day Test and was subsequently on the receiving end of continuous criticism about the legality of his action whenever he toured Australia.

The man with 800 Test wickets has now taken Australia’s off-spinner Nathan Lyon under his tutelage in Sri Lanka ahead of the Aussies’ series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October. Murali will also be bowling at the batsmen in the nets to help them counter the threat of Saeed Ajmal.

Former Sussex bowler Naveed Arif has received a life ban from the England and Wales Cricket Board after pleading guilty to six breaches of its anti-corruption code. All of the charges related to Sussex’s 40-over match against Kent in August 2011.

Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful was also banned for eight years for match-fixing. The Bangladesh Cricket Board issued the punishment after Ashraful pleaded guilty to being involved in fixing a match in the Bangladesh Premier League.