Liam Plunkett has played under more England captains than most given he made his international debut 14 years ago, but he rates Eoin Morgan the best of the lot.
That’s quite some accolade for the leader of England’s white-ball teams, especially as Plunkett’s captain on his Test debut against Pakistan at Lahore in 2005 was Michael Vaughan, who had masterminded his country’s fabled Ashes triumph against Australia earlier that year.
Vaughan is widely regarded as England’s best captain since Mike Brearley, but the belief Morgan has instilled in England’s one-day team during their rise to No.1 in the world over the past four years has made a lasting impression on Plunkett.
The 33-year-old fast bowler said: “You never see Eoin get frustrated. He gets excited but not disappointed, he wants guys to do well. He’s the best captain I’ve ever played under, he’s been awesome for me.
“He’s never too high or too low and you can speak to him. He’s always black or white, if you’re playing or you’re not playing he’ll tell you why and you can see his reason.”
Plunkett, who moved from Yorkshire to Surrey over the winter, missed England’s final T20 international against West Indies in St Kitts last Sunday after revealing he had unknowingly played through the recent one-day series in the Caribbean with a fractured finger sustained while on Big Bash duty for Melbourne Stars.
Plunkett said: “I didn’t know. I was fielding in the Big Bash and I got clipped at cover and it was a bit sore. I just found out. I can feel it in the warm-ups but as soon as the adrenaline kicks in, you’re fine. It was something I was aware of but it is fine now. And, as I say, over the last two weeks I feel I’m getting my snap back.”
Plunkett, also nursing a foot injury that will see him miss Surrey’s Champion County game against MCC in Dubai next week, appeared down on pace as England were held to a surprise 2-2 draw in that one-day series and took one wicket in four matches.
He was back to something close to his best form when taking two wickets in last week’s second T20 international, a match which saw West Indies routed for 45. England hope he can return for Surrey’s pre-season match against Durham MCCU at The Oval starting on April 4.
Plunkett has been England’s go-to man during the middle overs in one-day cricket in recent years. It means he will be an integral part of the squad who will be aiming to secure a first 50-over World Cup triumph on home soil this summer.
“The team has been great,” he said. “The other bowlers create pressure. The batsman thinks he might target the first-change bowler and that’s how you can get wickets. I do pride myself on trying to get wickets in the middle – you can be a game-changer.
“Morgs backed me to play, I don’t take the new ball so I came on in the middle and things went well. Then the team just back you and back you even if things don’t go well and that is what Morgs has always done.
“If you look in the nets everyone is trying to improve and that is why we’re No.1 in the world in the ODI stuff and that is a good place to be.”
Despite his recent injuries, it is hoped Plunkett will get a good lead-in to the World Cup playing for Surrey in the County Championship and Royal London Cup before England’s opening match of the tournament against South Africa at The Oval on May 30.
That would be good news given he is a bowler who needs overs under his belt to feel in his best rhythm.
“It is about working out how I maintain where I’m at now through to the World Cup,” he said. “I know they will say have a couple of weeks off, but I’m going to train. I might have been a bit short of that in the past when people tell you to have a rest and take time off because you’re older but it doesn’t work for me.”
CHRIS STOCKS / Photo: Getty Images