Plunkett mixes it up
England Lions seamer Liam Plunkett is confident his team have the right blend of youth and experience to win the two-Test series against New Zealand A.
Plunkett took 4-76 in 17 overs in a warm-up match against an Emerging Players XI, which ended in a draw, and is relishing the first Test in Queenstown starting tomorrow.
Sajid Mahmood, who has eight Test caps for England, is also on the tour, and, with Plunkett, will give the Lions a fearsome seam attack.
“We’ve got Saj and Mark Davies, who’ve both played a lot, and we’ve got the spinners too, so we’re looking strong in the bowling department,” said Plunkett.
“There are a lot of young players and some older, more experienced players, so it’s a really good mix.
“The team we’ve got out here is strong and a lot of players have played Test cricket and been on the county circuit a few seasons. We’re pretty sure we can win the series.
“You start to get that edgy feel, a few nerves. My room-mate is new to the team and is a bit edgy and nervous, but it’s a good sign.”
One player missing for the Lions, however, is Ravi Bopara, who was called up for England’s fourth Test against West Indies and sparkled yesterday in Barbados in place of the injured Andrew Flintoff.
“Any batting line-up is going to miss a player like Ravi but we’ve got other players who can step in and score runs,” Plunkett said.
“I think it’s good for Ravi - one minute he’s out here the next he’s on telly scoring a hundred for England.
“But we’ve got other people to replace him and we’re happy.”
The 23-year-old was happy with his own performance on Thursday, particularly claiming the scalp of Durham team-mate Scott Styris for 24.
“I know Scott well and it was nice to get him out,” he continued. “It kicked me up a little bit bowling to him - there’s always a bit of an extra challenge in a one on one like that. It fires you up.
“The wickets are actually fairly slow. It was hard work but to bowl the overs and get the wickets was good for confidence.
“New Zealand have got some good players with Test experience. I know (Tim) McIntosh got a Test century against West Indies and there are other useful players.
“I’m sure they’ll be tough to play against. I’m just really looking forward to it.”
On his own ambitions, Plunkett admitted that returning to the full England squad is an ever-present challenge, adding: “You’ve always got to have that at the back of your mind. My aim is to play for England again and I hope I can do that.
“Right now I’m enjoying playing for the Lions but it’s always in your mind to do as well as you can and hopefully that will lead to being part of the full England side - there wouldn’t be any point in playing otherwise.”