Liam Plunkett was 'pacing the room' ahead of World Cup confirmation

Liam Plunkett plays a video game at the England World Cup kit launch Getty Images

At the age of 34, and with more wickets since the 2015 World Cup than any other England fast bowler, Liam Plunkett probably knew deep down that he had both the experience and the statistics to justify his retention in England's 15-man squad for the tournament starting next week.

But nevertheless, Plunkett still found himself "pacing up and down" in anticipation of his confirmatory phone-call from the national selector, Ed Smith - with his wife Emeleah choosing to keep schtum about some good work-related news of her own - as the battle for England's final fast-bowling slots went right down to the wire.

In the end, England chose to back Plunkett's proven abilities as a deck-hitting middle-innings enforcer - a role in which he has claimed 85 wickets at 28.43 in 53 matches since 2015 - and instead it was the left-armer David Willey who missed the cut, a decision that Eoin Morgan, England's captain, said had been the toughest of his career.

"You always have that slight doubt in your mind," Plunkett said at the New Balance England kit launch in East London. "Are they going down this route or that route? I felt like I deserved to be in that squad, but you just don't know what they're thinking."

To pass the time and to alleviate his nerves, Plunkett went back to basics, hitting the gym with a vengeance and topping up the fitness levels that will be crucial in retaining his edge as a fast bowler, after a dip in his average speed in the early part of the year appeared to have undermined his status in the side.

"I think I did about 12 hill-sprints, and kettle bells, and bikes, pacing up and down," he said. And all the while, Plunkett's wife had been sitting on her own announcement - that, as a high-flying financial analyst in the USA, she had just been promoted to director at her company.

"She didn't tell me, she kept that quiet until I found out," Plunkett said. "[We had a] fairly quiet [celebration], she's worked just as hard to get there, so it was good to hear that news as well."

With that initial selection hurdle now out of the way, Plunkett can settle down to prepare for his role in what promises to be a gruelling six-week campaign. But with the average score in the recent England v Pakistan series pushing 350, he admitted it can be increasingly hard for a bowler in the modern one-day game to work out what exactly constitutes a good day at the office.

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"Ideally you want to go for 20 [runs], but realistically, bowlers will take 2 for late-40s, 2 for 50 now, especially when there's a score like that, and people are going for 60, 70 [in their ten overs]," he said.

In fact, Plunkett found himself passing the time with Chris Woakes during their twelfth-man duties in the Pakistan series, trying to compare batting and bowling landmarks in the modern landscape.

"I was speaking to Woakesy on the bench the other day, trying to relate what a fifty would be like in bowling figures, and what a hundred is like," he said. "We couldn't work out what it would be. Ten overs, 2 for 20 would be like a double-hundred or something. It's tricky, a tricky period to bowl in."

Plunkett has been around for so long, he can remember the days when feats that can seem common-place in the current climate still seemed extraordinary - such as England's thrashing by Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2006, when Sanath Jayasuriya led an assault on England's target of 322 inside 40 overs.

"I remember going for 50-odd off nine and I was devastated," he said (it was actually 46 off five, if the above game was the one he was recalling). "Worst day of my life, but it's changed a lot now. If you're picking up 2 or 3 for 50, I'll snap someone's hand off, especially in that middle part when you're breaking the game up, and getting two or three of their main batsmen out."

That middle period remains Plunkett's point-of-difference in the England set-up. His ability, alongside the legspin of Adil Rashid, to disrupt well-set batsmen and prise openings in an opposition innings, remains a valuable option for England to have in their armoury, even if the arrival of Jofra Archer could provide Morgan with an alternative go-to bowler.

"Jofra's an amazing talent," Plunkett said. "It's great to have him in the squad as someone who can rock up and bowl at 93mph consistently, and he can bowl in any part of the game also, so that just adds a bit more variation in the middle. If I'm not picking up, or Rash is not picking up, he can come in and I can work well with Jofra, or Rash can work well with Jofra. It's good to have that versatility in the middle.

"You get compared a lot," he said, when asked to weigh up the merits of England's various seam options. "I've been through a lot since the World Cup in 2007, and whatever squad you're in, there's someone chasing your tail. Whether it be Bally [Jake Ball], or the Overtons, or Lewis Gregory. Or whoever's in the county circuit. You always get compared to someone

"But I feel like I do a different role to the other guys. I think that's what I've done well, and been successful at, and I don't think they want me doing anything different.

"You're always working on your game, I've worked on my death bowling because every bowler has to be able to do all. Some people are better at stuff than other people, but if called upon, you want to be able to step up and do what you're asked to do."