Yorkshire give Plunkett rest allowing youngsters to impress

Yorkshire's Andrew Hodd catches the ball as centurian Dinesh Chandimal plays and misses. Picture: Steve Riding.
Yorkshire's Andrew Hodd catches the ball as centurian Dinesh Chandimal plays and misses. Picture: Steve Riding.
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JASON GILLESPIE revealed that Yorkshire turned down the chance to field England star Liam Plunkett in yesterday’s match against Sri Lanka A.

The Yorkshire first-team coach said Plunkett was originally in his side after being left out of the third Test against India at Southampton.

Gillespie said England left the decision entirely up to Yorkshire, but after conversations with the player, he determined it would be in Plunkett’s best interests to rest ahead of next week’s fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Plunkett, 29, has bowled a lot of overs lately and he was last night named in an unchanged England squad for the Test starting in Manchester on Thursday.

“A couple of days ago I had Liam pencilled into the side,” said Gillespie, whose young team fought defiantly as Sri Lanka A won by 26 runs.

“The idea was to play him mainly as a batter and maybe bowl one spell just to tick him over, but, in the end, we decided he was better off resting because there’s another Test coming up and he’s bowled a mountain of overs.

“England said they were happy whichever way we wanted to go.

“After a good chat with Liam, we decided it was a good window for him to have a bit of a rest.”

Plunkett’s non-appearance created an opportunity for Elliot Callis, a 19-year-old batsman from Doncaster, one of several youngsters given an outing against experienced opponents.

The Sri Lankans had 176 international caps between them, comprising 15 Tests, 125 one-day internationals and 36 Twenty20 internationals, spread out among six of their number.

The majority belonged to Dinesh Chandimal, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who played in the recent Headingley Test and scored 45 in the first innings as Sri Lanka won their first Test series in England. Chandimal, who has played 14 Tests, 84 ODIs and 27 T20 internationals, top-scored yesterday with an even 100 as Sri Lanka A made 275-9 after choosing to bat.

Adil Rashid – one of four first-team regulars in the Yorkshire XI, along with acting captain Alex Lees, Adam Lyth and Jack Leaning – captured 4-57 from 10 overs, while James Wainman, a 21-year-old left-arm pace bowler, returned 3-51 from eight.

Yorkshire, for whom the primary purpose of the game was to give opportunities to those not involved regularly in the first XI, looked on course to pull off what would have been a splendid win at 140-2 in the 24th over

But the batting stutters that have dogged the first team of late surfaced here also as they collapsed to 182-7, which effectively ended their challenge, before a spirited late rally to 249 all-out.

Lees top-scored with 54, Dan Hodgson struck 51 and Wainman a valiant 33, but good bowling from the Sri Lankan spinners, to whom nine wickets fell, sent the tourists into next week’s tri-series involving England Lions and New Zealand A in good heart.

Overall, Gillespie was pleased with the performance of his side, for whom Moin Ashraf, the 22-year-old pace bowler, was unavailable after splitting the webbing on his left hand on the eve of the match.

“It was unfortunate for Moin, and it wouldn’t have been fair to him to try and impress with a sore hand that had kept him awake half the night,” said Gillespie. “But the young lads who played did really well, and to take an international team to within 20-odd runs was a great achievement.”