Plunkett goes the distance for England chance

To join the England team, Liam Plunkett took four flights covering 15,000 miles lasting 30 hours. He left a gym in St Kitts, bought some magazines in Miami, booked briefly into a hotel in London, took some sleeping pills in Singapore and pitched up in Perth.

If he fails to make the XI for the final one-day international against Australia on Sunday it will have been one of the least worthwhile journeys of modern times. It would demonstrate several things: that England leave nothing to chance when selecting teams, have a strict pecking order, and that the England & Wales Cricket Board is not frightened of meeting that cost.

The seventh match of the Commonwealth Bank series is rapidly assuming the status of an international in name only. It is not simply that Australia are 5-1 ahead and demonstrating the utter paucity of dead matches, but also that both sides are denuded of their World Cup players.

At the last count England are without five of their squad members for the most important one-day competition of all, which starts in a fortnight, plus their apparent first reserve. To the list of Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett was added yesterday Paul Collingwood, who flies home today after suffering a back spasm in the sixth ODI in Sydney on Wednesday.

In addition, they appear reluctant to allow two other members, Luke Wright and James Tredwell, a sight of the middle unless they are performing substitute fielding duties or carrying drinks. Australia have six World Cup players either unfit or now officially rested, including Ricky Ponting, and Michael Clarke. Given all these circumstances, it might have been difficult to market the match at the Waca on Sunday, which is a sell-out.

In the case of Plunkett's being in the starting XI, England are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Collingwood's injury broadens his opportunity. If he plays ahead of Wright, the all-rounder who bowls fast and is off to the World Cup, it makes a nonsense of Wright's selection. If Plunkett does not play it makes a nonsense of his long journey, since he is returning to St Kitts on Monday to be reunited with England Lions, who are playing in the West Indies' four-day competition.

Plunkett has bowled two overs for England since his young star was briefly in the ascendant between 2006 and 2007, in a Chittagong one-dayer last winter. The long and possibly fruitless journey did not appear to have fazed him. "I feel I've gone well this winter with the Lions," he said. "Yes, it was a long journey, but I didn't think about that because it means playing for England. You think: 'I want to be there.' I watched a few movies – more than a few movies – and I was here. If you work hard, you can get the nod."

But it need not have been like that for Plunkett. When he was plucked from the bowling production line of Durham, for England's tour of Pakistan in the winter 2005-06, he was an immediate hit and Michael Vaughan, then captain, said it looked as though they had found one in Plunkett.

Not long after, his action appeared to falter. There were million-dollar balls, like the brute of a yorker which bowled Adam Gilchrist first ball in Sydney early in 2007, but there has been plenty of low-rent stuff too. Plunkett has remained dauntless.

As for the in-flight movies, he watched Denzel Washington's Unstoppable twice. If it inspires him Australia ought to worry about 5-2 on Sunday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album