PROFESSIONAL sport makes a virtue of ruthlessness, and the man predicted to be the next England coach displayed it yesterday when he dropped the England pace bowler Liam Plunkett for disciplinary reasons.
Yorkshire first-team coach Jason Gillespie axed Plunkett for the game against Hampshire after he failed to attend the club’s official photocall on Saturday and their final training session ahead of the match.
Gillespie, who is expected to take over as England coach from the sacked Peter Moores, said the pace bowler had “crossed the line”.
Plunkett’s punishment was 12th man duties yesterday, a long slog down to Canterbury today for a three-day second team friendly, and a missed chance to press his claims for selection for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s starting on Thursday week.
Gillespie, who stressed that no player is bigger than the team, did not field questions yesterday relating to the England job, having already made clear his position at length, which is that he is flattered to be linked, hopes to coach at international level one day and is fully focused on Yorkshire for now.
However, a man with a reputation for being relaxed and laid-back left no one in any doubt as to his inner ruthlessness and high professional standards when he pulled up Plunkett for breaching team rules, insisting that he could not allow the matter to go unpunished.
“I am very disappointed with Liam,” said Gillespie, the bookmakers’ favourite to take over from Moores. “He knows that he has crossed the line and he has paid the price of missing out on selection for this game.
“Liam has apologised and we have accepted his apology.
“He is disappointed in himself for letting his team-mates down.
“Hopefully, he will learn from this.
“Players are fully aware that we will not tolerate breaches of ill-discipline.
“Our internal code of conduct is sacrosanct and fundamental to driving us on as a successful club.”
Plunkett, 30, had been set to play his first first-class game since January, having just returned from the West Indies tour where he did not play in the three-Test series in the Caribbean.
This incident will have done nothing to aid his chances of featuring in the forthcoming two-Test series against New Zealand at Lord’s and Headingley.
Plunkett’s place in the Yorkshire team to face Hampshire was taken by Will Rhodes, the 20-year-old all-rounder.