Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett content to play role as the ODI '˜villain'

LIAM PLUNKETT will concentrate on the role he loves as England's one-day international 'bad guy' rather than waste energy fretting about his left-field Ashes prospects.

Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of the West Indies Shai Hope during Englands ODI win on Sunday (Picture: David Davies/PA).
Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of the West Indies Shai Hope during Englands ODI win on Sunday (Picture: David Davies/PA).

Plunkett’s maiden ODI five-wicket haul closed out England’s 124-run victory over the West Indies in Sunday’s six-fest third Royal London Series match at Bristol.

Centurion Moeen Ali accounted for eight of the 28 maximums struck in total, the West Indies opener Chris Gayle responding with six of the tourists’ 13.

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It is Plunkett’s job, of course, to ensure there are as few sixes as possible against England – and he made a success of it, conceding just one to Gayle in his figures of 5-52, which took him second, behind only Rashid Khan with 33 to the Afghanistan leg-spinner’s 36, in this year’s table of top ODI wicket-takers.

The 32-year-old fast bowler’s latest exploits, apart from helping England into a 2-0 lead with two to play against the West Indies, have put him back on the fringes of discussion about the squad for this winter’s Ashes.

By the time he next marks his run, in the fourth ODI at The Oval two hours after the Ashes line-up is named, Yorkshire’s Plunkett will know whether his white-ball form has put him back in the reckoning to add to his 13 Test caps – more than three years after his last one.

He does not expect it to and is focused instead on his day job as one of England’s most reliable limited-overs exponents.

“I love to be the bad guy for the crowd – it means I’m not getting hit out of the park,” he said.

“Everyone wants to see sixes and fours ... (but) that’s why I do like it, because you feel as though you can run the game in that period, close a team down, squeeze them.”

He knows there will be tough times too, of course, notably trying to keep Gayle quiet, for example.

“We can look at footage, because (it) gives you reminders before you go out,” added Plunkett.

“But they are just little reminders ... because if you don’t bowl well, it’s still your fault. There’s no one else to blame but yourself.”

Plunkett enjoys the challenge nonetheless.

“I do relish it,” he said.

“Obviously [Gayle] is a good player – and if you miss, he’ll hit it miles.

“(But) we feel as though, if we can get an early wicket, we can get on top of them.

“We do back ourselves; we’re a good team.

“They’re a team that likes boundaries and play dot balls. We feel we are a better team because we hit boundaries and run the ones and twos, and we’ve got one up on them as a result of that.”

As for the Ashes, Plunkett knows he has only an outside chance even after the back injury that has ruled Toby Roland-Jones out so cruelly, and therefore stretched England’s pace resources.

“Obviously I’d love to be in the Ashes squad ... but maybe they think of me as a white-ball bowler,” he said.

“If I got the go-ahead, happy days, but I can’t see it happening.”