In international cricket, there was a time when fast bowlers older than 30 looked to reduce their runups and experiment with cut and swing and variations of pace.
But for Liam Plunkett, such notions are for wimps. He will be 32 next birthday, and though he already bowls a seriously heavy ball -93-94 mph at best he is dedicated to the task of becoming faster.
England recently draws the Test series against Pakistan. Now the host will play the limited over series.
“I’m bowling fast enough but I feel I’ve got a lot more to give,” he said as he looked forward to England’s one‑day international series against Pakistan. The ODI series will start at Southampton on Wednesday.
Chris Woakes, heroically, became a fast bowler this year, working on his leading arm and other aspects of his action, losing some of his skills as he did, but then relearning those skills to suit his greater pace.
But Woakes is 27. And he was coming from a lower starting point he used to bowl at 80 to 83 mph. What Plunkett is aiming to do sounds challenging, be he is undaunted.
“As I get older I learn to look after my body better,” he says. “I eat better, think smarter, and it’s paid off because I feel better than I’ve ever done. I want to get more powerful and quicker and I think I can do that, though I’ll have to work hard at it. Mitchell Johnson was at his best at 32-33. I feel I’m in the best nick I’ve ever been in, the quickest bowler in the country when it all clicks, and can get better still.”
Plunket started playing for England in 2005-the year England beat Australia so memorably with that wonderful fast bowling quartet Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones. But he has still made only 60 international appearances across the three formats.
Plunkett made his ODI return in 2015, four years after his second comeback in international cricket, against New Zealand. Now he will play against Pakistan.