Yorkshire 444 Warwickshire 136-6: Plundering Liam Plunkett makes a strong case for England recall


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The Independent Online

Liam Plunkett last played for England in 2011 and has not enjoyed a run in the side since 2007. Yet there will be some disappointment if his name is not among those announced this morning for the one-day series against Sri Lanka.

England have not made a habit in recent years of bringing back individuals previously discarded – although it could be argued that the re-engagement of Peter Moores as coach bucks that trend – so the clamour of support for the former Durham fast bowler may fall on deaf ears.

However, he keeps grabbing headlines, with ball and even bat, as he did here with an audacious 86 off just 75 deliveries against a flagging Warwickshire attack, who leaked runs so uncontrollably to the Yorkshire tail that a scorecard that once read 181 for 6 was transformed to 444 all out. 

Then came a very hostile spell with the ball which had even a batsman as accomplished as Ian Bell fighting hard for survival, setting the tone for Yorkshire’s bowlers to dominate the remainder of the day as Warwickshire struggled to 136 for 6 at the close, with Bell unbeaten on 58 but otherwise in disarray, still 167 short of the follow-on mark.

Yorkshire see Plunkett as their Mitchell Johnson; indeed their captain, Andrew Gale, has been studying the way Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, uses Johnson, not only as a wicket-taker but to create pressure and uncertainty.

Warwickshire had lost Varun Chopra, who has been out of touch, to the ninth ball of the innings, late into his shot and spectacularly bowled middle and off by Jack Brooks, but it was after Plunkett came on at first change for Tim Bresnan at the Kirkstall Lane End that things began to happen.  As Bell battled, Laurie Evans, another in need of runs, was missed in the last over of Brooks’s first spell when he edged between wicketkeeper and first slip but perished in the next over from the Rugby Stand End, bowled by Steve Patterson, to a catch at first slip.

Plunkett took his first breather after six overs, giving way to Brooks, who can also generate a bit of pace and took the fourth Warwickshire wicket with a ball to which Ateeq Javid reacted just a little too slowly.

Plunkett’s prowess with the bat is well known. He has 19 first-class fifties to his name and two hundreds, the latest of which came for England Lions in Sri Lanka in February. In Yorkshire’s eyes, there are not many boxes he does not tick.

He is 29 now so age may be against him. Yet there are fewer fitter fast bowlers on the circuit, thanks to countless hours in the gym. He has always been sharp, bowling in the high 80s and low 90s in terms of miles per hour; but now he can deliver spells of that pace lasting longer. 

Bell stands a class above anyone in this Warwickshire line-up and finished the day with another half-century to his name, one he had to graft for this time. But he has lost two more partners in Tim Ambrose and Chris Woakes and the road for his side looks relentlessly uphill from now.