Speaking on The Broken Trophy podcast, England World Cup winner Liam Plunkett recalled the terrifying experience of facing a pumped-up Shoaib Akhtar on his Test debut against Pakistan at Lahore in 2005.
Plunkett conceded that watching and facing Akhtar during that match, which the hosts won by an innings and 100 runs, was “frightening stuff”. Akhtar even trapped Plunkett lbw for a duck in the second innings of the match.
“I faced Shoaib Akhtar in my first-ever Test match. Because I played with Durham before that, I was marking my run-up before the Test, and he just smiled and said ‘I’m gonna kill you’ and laughed.
“I remember it like it was yesterday because I had my bat, at that time – you think [now] these bats are so thick and stuff – but it was Kashmir willow, it was really thin. And I was sat ready to bat, I was next in, and the TV screen’s right there, so you can see it’s like 96, 97, 96 [miles per hour]. Ashley Giles’ stumps get taken out, and I walk out to a guy who’s bowling 90 miles an hour.
“I don’t know how much Colly (Paul Collingwood) was on, but he was batting nicely, and often in county cricket when you go out there, ‘Is he bowling quick?’ and generally it’s ‘Oh yeah but it’s skiddy and that but you’re alright’, and Colly was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s f**kin’ rapid mate’.
“I remember the first one; it looked like I played it well. You duck, and you turn, and you can see it travel to the keeper and the keeper catches it. I got my first medal of honour; he hit me on the shoulder. I pretty much s**t my pants at that point.
“He’s just such a big solid bloke, he’s got massive tree trunk legs, and he just steams in, and you’re like, ‘every ball’s got serious intent here’. I think I was like nine off 60 balls, but I managed to do a decent job. My first Test, that was a serious challenge, and batting at No.9, to be able to put up a partnership, get seven or eight but face 60 balls, I was pretty happy with it.”
Plunkett played a pivotal role in England’s victory at the ODI World Cup last year, but since then he has been sidelined and is not in the scheme of things right now.
Plunkett has represented England in 13 Tests, 89 ODIs and 22 T20Is while picking up 41 wickets, 135 wickets and 25 wickets in each format of the game, respectively.