Cricket

Plunkett up for Gayle contest

Monday, September 18, 2017

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Chester-le-Street , United Kingdom (AFP) — England fast bowler Liam Plunkett is excited by the prospect of facing West Indies' big-hitter Chris Gayle in an upcoming One-Day International series.

Veteran left-handed opener Gayle gave England a taste of what they can expect in the five-match ODI clash with a typically rapid 40 as world Twenty20 champions West Indies beat England by 21 runs in the lone T20 international of their tour in Durham on Saturday.

A sell-out crowd was rewarded for braving a cold and rainswept night in Chester-le-Street by the sight of Gayle smashing three fours and four sixes in just 21 balls.

It was a reminder that the 37-year-old Jamaican has lost none of his power at the crease, and England are preparing for more of the same when the ODI campaign starts at Old Trafford tomorrow.

“I don't think anyone knows (how to bowl to Gayle) do they?” said Plunkett. “He's such a good player he just hits the ball out of the park wherever he wants.”

None of the West Indies side that played on Saturday featured during their recent 2-1 Test series loss in England.

But the likes of Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor, who missed the Test series because of a clash with the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament and the legacy of a bitter dispute with Cricket West Indies chiefs, are now back in the fold.

“It's good they have their experienced players back, a lot of stars, and that's what you want to play against,” said 32-year-old Plunkett.

“You want to beat the best they can bring over.”

While the West Indies also have two World Cup titles behind them, England have yet to win a major global One-Day International trophy, with the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean their lone piece of International Cricket Council silverware.

But England are a much-improved ODI side since their woeful first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“In one-dayers we're a good team; we haven't won any silverware obviously, but in terms of the last two years with the amount of games and series we are a confident team,” Plunkett said.

“We feel like we should beat them (West Indies).”

Meanwhile, Plunkett could yet become the leading wicket-taker in One-Day Internationals this year.

He has taken 28 wickets in 13 ODIs in 2017, with Afghanistan's Rashid Khan (36 wickets) and Pakistan's Hasan Ali (31) topping the list for the calendar year to date.

The Yorkshireman took three for 27 on Saturday and now looks to be increasingly settled at international level following a stop-start England career.

Plunkett made his England debut back in 2005, but it is only in the past two years that he has become a white-ball regular.

“I'm quite comfortable in my own skin with England now,” he said.

“It's good to have that feeling and it would be great to be the number one wicket-taker.

“It would be great to achieve that, but also good to win the series.”

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