Liam Plunkett has revealed how his recent spell in the Indian Premier League afforded him the opportunity to get to know one of his heroes.
It may be some surprise to learn that a young fast bowler growing up in Middlesbrough looked up to an Australian batsman. But, in fairness, Ricky Ponting was no ordinary batsman.
On the eve of the county season, Yorkshire and England limited overs fast bowler Plunkett signed a deal to play for Delhi Daredevils, who were coached by Ponting.
And, not surprisingly, Plunkett loved his experience even if he would have wanted more than four wickets in six appearances and for the Daredevils to have done much better than finishing bottom of the table.
Now back with Yorkshire for the second half of their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, Plunkett said: “Sometimes they say, ‘Don’t meet your idols’, but I’m glad I met him properly.
“Growing up he was one of my idols, and I’ve played against him a few times – and got him out in a one-day international in early 2007. He’s a top bloke.
“He’d go out of his way to throw to you in the middle, he’d stay for an extra 30 minutes.
“He knows cricket inside out, so it was nice to tap into his brain. There were also some good old stories. He was very good.”
When Darren Lehmann quit as Australia’s coach in March, Ponting’s name was suggested by many as a replacement only for former Australian opener Justin Langer to be handed the role.
Ponting has been part of Australia’s backroom staff in Twenty20 as recently as February’s Tri-series Down Under between the Aussies, England and New Zealand.
But he has split his time with TV punditry on Channel Ten’s Big Bash Coverage, and he will be the face of Channel Seven’s free-to-air cricket coverage from next summer after a recent change in the rights deal.
However, his new employers will allow him to continue coaching, with Plunkett adding: “I think (his future is in) coaching.
“He’s just so passionate about the game and has so much to give.
“He loves getting involved in the nets and in fielding drills. He’s not finished playing that long ago, so he’s still a fit guy.”