What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and fast bowler Liam Plunkett believes that is the story of England’s campaign at the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's World Cup.
The hosts slipped up three times in the group stages, suffering defeats to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and defending champions Australia, who they are scheduled to face in a semi-final clash at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
One consistent factor in those losses was the absence of Plunkett, 34, who claims setbacks have only served to bolster England ahead of a clash with Aaron Finch’s five-time winners.
“I think those defeats have made us stronger. We had a few bad games and went away from our style of cricket, but I feel like we've caught that in time. We're back to playing our best brand of cricket and we can still improve," the ICC press release quoted Plunkett as saying.
“I feel like we had a wobble at the right time, a bit of a blip, and it's made us stronger. How we're feeling right now going into this semi-final, we'd have taken it at the start of the competition," he added.
Plunkett featured at the 2007 tournament, with the 12 years and 39 days wait for his next World Cup appearance bettered only by Shoaib Malik and Anderson Cummins.
The pacer has been a key cog in England’s attack, dismissing India captain Virat Kohli en route to a crucial win and tying New Zealand down in the final group game.
Eoin Morgan’s men have been irresistible in the format over the last four years but having won 17 consecutive run chases at home, they fell short batting second three times in the group stage.
But far from buckling under pressure, Plunkett said they have all the tools to deal with the expectation that comes with being a world number one side on home soil.
"It's a matter of how you deal with pressure, it's not a bad thing that it's there. People can thrive on it, people step out there and enjoy those moments. Other people have played under pressure, they've played in IPL and competitions around the world," he said.
“It's a World Cup but you've got to enjoy it and deal with it as quickly as you can. Whether that's from being involved in the first ball, it's just finding a way to deal with it and get involved in the game as quickly as possible," Plunkett added
"Australia is a game that gets the juices flowing. We've performed really well in the last two games. Even though we were dominant in those games, we feel like we're stepping up a gear as well. We're in a good place," the England fast bowler signed off.
England finished the group stage of the 2019 World Cup at the third position after winning six out of nine matches they played. They will be heading into the semi-final clash against Australia on the back of their huge 119-run win over New Zealand in their last league stage clash at Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street.