Liam Plunkett, Surrey, Yorkshire, England
Photo Credit: Getty Images.

England fast bowler Liam Plunkett has opened up on his struggles with anxiety problem and how he dealt with it. Mental health concerns amongst cricketers have reared its head aplenty in the recent past. As far as Liam Plunkett’s case goes, he described his anxiety issue as something when everything looked foggy. Yet, Plunkett also considered it as a blessing in disguise.

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Liam Plunkett has been one of the vital cogs of English limited-overs setup post their 2015 World Cup debacle. While spin-bowlers made their mark for other teams in the middle-overs, the 35-year old played that role as a fast bowler. Since April 2015 till the mid-2019 World Cup, he has 54 wickets from 56 innings in overs 11-40, which is the most by any bowler. In the 2019 World Cup, Liam Plunkett took 11 scalps in seven games at 24.73 including figures of 3/42 in the final against New Zealand.

Liam Plunkett
Liam Plunkett (Credits: Twitter)

Plunkett recalled that the first time it triggered was during a flight from New castle to London then on to the United States to visit his wife. Before he could get off the plane, the doors stood closed and all the fast bowler could feel was nervous. The 35-year old added by saying that he wanted to be with his wife dearly and the flight hurdle was too much to pass.

The first one happened when I was on a flight from Newcastle to Heathrow and then on to the US to see my wife. I had to get off the flight just before they closed the door. All of a sudden you’re sat in the plane and sweating. I really wanted to be with my wife but I couldn’t get over this massive hurdle of staying on that flight,” the speedster told the Guardian.

The second one hit in the winter of 2013 before the speedster got a chance to fly to Adelaide. While Plunkett described that he felt the fittest after joining Yorkshire from Durham, the veteran bowler sensed himself mentally stranded when he had to take a connecting flight from Singapore or Hong Kong.

I’d had a few panic attacks but I was in a good place after joining Yorkshire from Durham [in 2013]. I was the fittest I’d ever been. In the winter I got a chance to fly to Adelaide where I’d played 10 years before club cricket at Adelaide University. I took the first flight fine. I landed in Singapore or Hong Kong and had to get a connection. It felt like I couldn’t take a step into the boarding area,”

The limited-overs bowler labelled his mental health issue as an invisible wall, which was hazy enough that he couldn’t get through. Plunkett revealed that he was entirely distracted throughout the formalities before boarding the flight and didn’t dare to get himself to training.

It’s like an invisible wall. Everything is foggy and I couldn’t get through this wall. It was only that I’d handed my passport in and didn’t have the correct visa which distracted my mind. I managed to get the visa and made the flight. But when I landed at Adelaide I didn’t have the courage to get in a car, or take a taxi to training,”

I learned anxiety is a tool you should use: Liam Plunkett

Liam Plunkett, USA Cricket Team, England
Liam Plunkett. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Nevertheless, the Yorkshire paceman saw a silver lining to this and used the anxiety problem to his advantage. Liam Plunkett admitted that if anxiety hadn’t hit him, the 35-year old wouldn’t have played in the World Cup and dealing with it also helped in other areas of life.

If I didn’t get anxiety I probably wouldn’t have played in the World Cup. Many of us define anxiety as a really bad thing and for lots of people it is but when I deal with anxiety it helps me massively in other areas of life,” Liam Plunkett.

While overcoming his mental health problems, Plunkett learned that anxiety can be put to use to one’s advantage and that rising above it has improved him as a human being and an athlete. As of 2020, Liam Plunkett stands nowhere amongst in the English cricket fold. He could be seen plying his trade for the United States.

I learned anxiety is a tool you should use. I feel overcoming the anxiety has improved me 100% as a cricketer and as a person. It’s like practicing in the nets. Why would you not do that for your mind?” Plunkett added.

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