Yorkshire Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon has clarified the controversial omission of England pace bowler Liam Plunkett from the county’s LV County Championship encounter with Hampshire at Headingley. He said that it underlines Yorkshire’s desire to stop any complacency slipping into their quest to defend the title they won in 2014.
Plunkett was due to return to county action after spending several weeks carrying drinks in the West Indies as a reserve bowler for England, but he was deselected after failing to attend the team photocall and the final training session on Saturday. He served as 12th man on the first day of the game, and is currently travelling to Canterbury to take part in the first couple of days of a 2nd XI match against Kent. He should be available for Yorkshire’s first T20 Blast match of the season against Derbyshire on Friday.
Being unable to play in Yorkshire’s only first-class match before the selection of England’s Test squad to face New Zealand will have come as a huge blow to Plunkett, who might have had a reasonable chance of a spot before this latest incident. Plunkett has had discipline issues in the past, including two bans for drink-driving, but he has credited Yorkshire with turning his career around after he lost his way at Durham.
When asked why the club had made the reasons for leaving Plunkett out public, Moxon replied: “You’ve got to take it in the context of where we are as a club. We are very aware that we need to better this season than we were last season to repeat the success we had. We’ve talked about the little things that will make the difference.
“There’s lots of little things. Liam not turning up for the photocall and practice was something we couldn’t let go. We want to avoid that complacency. If we allow that to creep in we won’t be successful. Liam knows he messed up.
“The decision was very well explained to the players by Jason and they fully understand. They’ve bought into this culture and it’s about giving ourselves the best chance of success. That casualness can soon creep in. We don’t want that to start. We wanted to nip it absolutely in the bud. We’re all disappointed but you have to think about the bigger picture.
“I want to take you back 12 months to when [Andrew] Gale left himself out of the team at Lord’s. It’s team first here and it has to be. Galey did what was right for the team and not himself. The rest of the players owe it to him to make the team successful. We’re trying to nip any carelessness in the bud. We want to continue our success.”
Plunkett was replaced on the Yorkshire team sheet by promising young all-rounder Will Rhodes. While Rhodes might not yet have the pace or the experience of Plunkett, he chipped in with the handy wicket of Liam Dawson to break a 75-run partnership between him and Michael Carberry. While the White Rose are imposing a strict discipline as part of the team ethic, they are also blessed with a strength in depth that ensures they are not greatly weakened by such bold decisions as this one.
Moxon also said that “nothing official has happened” regarding speculation that Jason Gillespie might succeed England coach. If Gillespie is appointed, the chances are that misbehaviour from any England players won’t be tolerated for very long.