Liam Plunkett was England’s lucky charm at this World Cup – and even when they looked dead and buried on Sunday the veteran seamer knew they were destined for glory.
Ben Stokes’ heroics rescued a chase at Lord’s that looked
all but over and then performed more miracles in the Super Over alongside Jos
The Black Caps then fell agonisingly short in response, and Plunkett ends this World Cup unbeaten – England’s three group-stage losses happened with Plunkett left out of the XI.
And after a four-year journey under captain Eoin Morgan
that has taken them to the top of the world – the 34-year-old knew that fate
would play its part.
“The old lucky charm thing, I was riding with it! I was
hoping the coach thinks that so I can get a game,” he said.
“What a day, it’s been a long journey! I played against
Ross Taylor in the first World Cup I played back in 2007, and now in the blink
of an eye I am playing him at Lord’s.
“I don’t believe in the stars and all that stuff, but it
was the first time that I felt: ‘This is meant to be.’
“We have played together as a group for the last four
years and we have played different countries and we have dominated teams.
“I just felt we did deserve it as a bunch of guys.
“We are good mates but we also work hard. Everyone else
does but I felt it was meant to be.
“Especially when those overthrows went, that changed the
Plunkett was selected way back for the 2007 World Cup as a young tyro, but since has had to bide his time with long spells in the international wilderness.
But after this watershed moment on free-to-air TV – he hopes the first Ashes winning team of 2005 that inspired a nation have been replicated 14 years on.
He added: “The last four years playing for England was
the best time of my life.
“Even if we didn’t win the World Cup it would have still
be a journey. We have been amazing, we have changed the culture of cricket in
“People expect us to win which is a lot different from a
few years back.
“To watch guys like Jos, freaks like Jofra step up to the
plate, it’s amazing for me to just watch it.
“What a day, it has changed the history of English
cricket and everyone got to watch that. I hope everyone gets involved and loves
it like when we won the Ashes. It was a special day.”
Plunkett has chipped in with big wickets all tournament – he dismissed Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Quinton de Kock to name but three – but he got the biggest fish of all on Sunday.
Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson nicked off to Buttler as
England tightened the screw and Plunkett was delighted to return to England’s
side at just the right time.
“Kane is a massive player and to get a crucial wicket is
what I do pride myself on so it was nice to get that,” he added.
“As soon as I came up the hill (from the Nursery End) I
felt comfortable attacking the crease, it felt a lot better.
“To get that wicket and close up and not go for many
wickets. I was satisfied but I knew the job was half done.”
Archer’s emergence initially meant that Plunkett’s place
in the team looked under threat.
With Tom Curran also in the seamer ranks at this squad,
in the end it was Moeen Ali who missed out in the final reckoning.
And Plunkett admitted the battle to get into the starting
XI had taken its toll, internally at the very least.
“You cannot be too bitter (if you are out of the team),
you can be bitter and upset inside that you are not playing. Especially if you
feel like you are doing well.
“But look at TC (Tom Curran), he has done nothing wrong,
his stats have been class.
“You can be disappointed but you have to turn up and keep training. “And when you get the nod, you have got perform.”
CHARLIE TALBOT-SMITH / Photos: Getty Images