The Cricket World Cup begins today and England face South Africa in the opening game.
Liam Plunkett is confident his side can get off to a winning start but is wary of the threat the South Africans pose.
“South Africa are a strong unit and we are going to have to be pretty much at our very best in order to get our World Cup campaign off to the best possible start,” Plunkett said.
“They have always had strong squads and this one is no exception.”
He added: “It looks set to be a cracking match, and hopefully we’ll be on our A game. I’m sure we’ll have to be to win.
It could have been very different for Plunkett, though.
The 34-year-old gave up his England place last year to attend his wedding.
With just months to go before a home World Cup, he ran the risk of missing out on the squad.
Who is Liam Plunkett married to?
Plunkett is married to Emeleah Erb, who comes from the United States. The pair tied the knot in October 2018 in the Cotswolds.
How Liam Plunkett is balancing life and sport
Plunkett’s wedding was fully arranged when Sri Lanka Cricket switched the dates of their one-day series.
The new date clashed with Plunkett and Erb’s big day, leaving the cricket star with a decision to make.
Elite sport sometimes feels detached from reality and athletes regularly make sacrifices to reach and stay at the top of their game.
Indeed, Plunkett’s captain Eoin Morgan decided to postpone his wedding and go on tour when faced with the same dilemma.
However, Plunkett made the decision to go ahead with his wedding plans, knowing it could have jeopardised his place in the England squad with the World Cup just months away.
“I think England understand my position,” he said at the time. “I’m not going to change and ruin everything for her.”
He added: “Whatever happens, will happen.”
According to the New York Times, the divorce rate among elite sports stars in America is estimated between 60 and 80 per cent.
Cricket gives its players a particularly tough ride, with its long months on tour long weekends away.
But Plunkett’s decision was a refreshing one and showed a well-balanced outlook on life.