Liam Plunkett can count himself extremely unfortunate to have been recently dropped from this England side. He consistantly took wickets with the new ball and got good runs with the bat in recent months. It was not his fault that England lacked a middle overs wicket taking threat against New Zealand, when England scored too few runs and against Canada, when Monty Panesar, Paul Collingwood and Jamie Dalrymple were not particuarly threatening, minus Andrew Flintoff. Now that Monty and Fred are in form, the attack is carrying Sajid Mahmood, whose idea of new ball bowling is to spray it down leg ala Harmi.
Plunkett has three wickets from two games against New Zealand and Canada at 29.66, whereas Mahmood has just one against Kenya and Ireland at 73! And Plunkett contributed a crucial (in run rate terms) 29 with the bat against the Kiwis.
Overall, Plunkett averages 26.09 at an 86.70 strike rate with the bat (best 56) and 35.22 at a 36.41 strike rate, with an economy of 5.80, with the ball.
Comparatively, Mahmood averages just 9.22 at an 86.45 strike rate with the bat (best 22*) and 42.81 at a 44.04 strike rate, with an economy of 5.83, with the ball.
Surely it is common sense. Plunkett lengthens the batting and forms a very good new ball partnership with Jimmy Anderson, both able to exploit dramtic swing in both directions. I understand what England have attempted by playing Mahmood. They hope his pace will make the difference in the middle, but it isn't just pace that brings you success in international cricket, just ask Glenn McGrath, leading World Cup wicket taker.
Hopefully Plunkett will be restored against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, or England will do themselves a diservice. The Mahmood experiement has failed, he has not taken wickets against the minnows. Plunkett was key to the CB series success down under, he earnt his place and deserves it back. The England management may worry about wicket taking in the middle overs, but I'd be more concerned about the wicket taking threat up front and Plunkett offers more of it, whilst Mahmood has so far offered very little.