G Force: Great to see Plunkett back at the top

Liam Plunkett.
Liam Plunkett.
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IT’S great to see our old pal Liam Plunkett back in the England fold – though I hope the changing room is on red alert!

Everyone at Durham is delighted that Pudsey has forced his way back into the reckoning, and it’s no more than he deserves for the hard work he’s put in over the last couple of years.

There’s no doubt he’s turned his career around since joining Yorkshire. He’d got into a little bit of a rut at Durham and felt he needed to move on.

Durham had done everything they possibly could but he just found himself out of the side and playing bits and pieces.

It was a little bit of a fall from grace. I remember playing Under-19s cricket with Liam for the England academy and Rod Marsh said he would take 300 wickets for England before he was 28.

He played for England when he was quite young, but then for whatever reason he lost a little bit of accuarcy and swing in his bowling.

But he’s gone off to Yorkshire and found that form again. He’s bowling quick, around 90mph, but it’s not just about pace at the top level, and he’s also got that accuracy back.

Having said that, anyone able to bowl at 90mph has a chance of success. We saw what Mitchell Johnson did to England in the Ashes last winter, and England didn’t have anything like that.

The only bowlers I’ve seen who match Liam for pace this season are Tymal Mills, at Essex, and our own Mark Wood at Durham, who I think has a chance if he can show some consistency. They’ll certainly be breathing down Liam’s neck, but he’s got a great chance now to stake his claim this summer.

That strike bowler role could be Pudsey’s in the England team – his pace would complement the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. I know Chris Woakes is also in the squad but I think Liam will have a good chance of playing against Sri Lanka because of the balance.

If he does, the dressing room at Lord’s will be a lively place to be.

When he was at Durham, Pudsey was the life and soul of the changing room. He was the practical joker of the club, and always had great energy and enthusiasm. When things weren’t going well, he was great to have around and he kept people going out on the field, and off it too.

Everyone at the club got on with him. I did some boxing training with him a couple of winters ago and it was great to feed off his energy, as well as seeing how hard he was working.

Pudsey always made sure he was as fit as he could be. He worked especially hard with the likes of Alan Walker and Neil Killeen at Durham – they did everything they could to get him back to his best form.

But sometimes, a change of scenery is what is needed. Yorkshire haven’t got better coaches, it’s just a fresh start can sometimes do a player the world of good. Liam has gone there having to prove himself all over again, and he’s done it in style. he’s taken wickets and scored runs on the back of a good England A tour in the winter, and he deserves his call-up.

He’s only 28, so given how fit he keeps himself, he could have another five or six years at the top level.

We’re all delighted here at Durham with what he’s done.