England are a ‘different animal’ now: Plunkett - GulfToday

England are a ‘different animal’ now: Plunkett

Liam Plunkett

England’s Liam Plunkett speaks during a press conference in Edgbaston, Birmingham, on Tuesday. Reuters

Liam Plunkett has warned Australia that England are a “different sort of animal” from their predecessors as they prepare for a blockbuster World Cup semi-final.

The Ashes rivals meet in Birmingham on Thursday with defending champions Australia hoping to stay on track for a sixth title while England aim to stay in the hunt for their first.

Australia have the edge in terms of tournament experience and have won the past four World Cup meetings between the teams — including a group match earlier in this tournament — but paceman Plunkett insists times have changed.

“They’ve been there and done it before but not against this bunch of players,” he said.

“We’re a different sort of animal compared to our last teams. We’ve played well for the past four years, we’re ranked number one and we feel in a good place. We feel on our day we can beat anyone in the world.”

Plunkett is the elder statesman of the current England squad, making his international bow as far back as 2005 and earning his previous taste of World Cup Cricket 12 years ago in the West Indies.

He has witnessed the evolution of England’s one-day Cricket and has never known a better mood in the camp.

“We had amazing players (previously) but I never thought we’d win a World Cup,” he said.

“We’ve made it exciting again. I’ve played in teams where we didn’t expect to win. With this squad the public expect us to win games and win series.

“It would be nice to finish this four-year cycle. This journey we’ve been on, with this group of boys, it comes down to this.”

The hosts slipped up three times in the group stage, suffering defeats to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia.

One consistent factor in those losses was the absence of Plunkett, 34, who said the setbacks had only served to bolster England before their clash with the five-time winners.

And he said England had all the tools to deal with the expectation that comes from being the top-ranked side on home soil.

“People can thrive on it, people step out there and enjoy those moments. Other people have played under pressure, they’ve played in IPL (Indian Premier League) and competitions around the world,” he said.

“Australia is a game that gets the juices flowing. We’ve performed really well in the last two games.

“Even though we were dominant in those games, we feel like we’re stepping up a gear as well. We’re in a good place.”

Meanwhile, Joe Root is feeling confident that both recent and distant history have the tournament hosts ready for revenge in the rematch against Australia.

England were downed in convincing fashion by their fiercest rivals at Lord’s last month and looked in serious danger of missing out on the semi-finals at their home tournament.

England have lost their last two clashes with Australia including a warm-up game before the World Cup began, but before that Root and co had the edge with a series win Down Under and a 5-0 whitewash on home soil.

“If you look at the past 11 games against them we have won nine,” Root was quoted as saying by the ICC.

“These guys and this group over the last four years, their experience against Australia have been very positive and they have got a lot of success in the bank.

“I don’t see that as a big worry for this group, we will be drawing on that confidence that over a long period of time now we have been successful against Australia and we should take that into Thursday.”

Add to that the fact that England have found their best form - with Jason Roy back firing fit at the top of the order - and the mood is clearly buoyant.

“I feel we are in a good place coming into it, I feel like the last two days have almost been like knockout cricket for us.

“We have been playing in a high-pressure environment for a while now and hopefully that will hold us in good stead going into this game.

“It doesn’t matter (who are the favourites). It comes down to who plays their best cricket on the day. If we play in the manner we have the last two games, we will be a very difficult side to play against.

“You can look at form, statistically who is stronger, but it all comes down to who handles the day better, who plays the stronger cricket for the longest period and who will stand up and be victorious at the end of it,” Root added.


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