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Liam Plunkett: I wouldn’t have won a World Cup if I didn’t get anxiety

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Speaking on The Broken Trophy podcast, Liam Plunkett detailed his battle with anxiety, and explained why he feels why he now views it as a gift.

The right-arm quick hasn’t played for England since taking three wicket’s in last summer’s World Cup final. He has in the past detailed the “massive low” he experienced after that magical win, and has now detailed his battle with anxiety more fully.

“It’s something I’m going to go into and hopefully I can document this at some point, but anxiety has been, at least since 2010, I’ve had really bad anxiety, in terms of panic attacks on flights and not being able to go into meetings, not being able to go in taxis,” he said. “It was real bad when I went to Australia and played club cricket, I couldn’t leave the bedroom for eight days. I shared with someone, and I’d be in the room just with all the anxiety and stuff.”

However, Plunkett also feels he wouldn’t have reached the pinnacle of the game without his anxiety, and credited The Four Gifts of Anxiety, by Sherianna Boyle, as having helped him significantly.

“Now I look back at it, anxiety is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given,” he said. “I’ve tried to use that a little bit, and I felt like I wouldn’t have played for England and helped win a World Cup, or even been in that World Cup squad, if I didn’t get anxiety. It made me drive me to the stuff that was more important to me. I could get anxiety during a one-on-one meeting but then go and play in front of 30,000 people and I wouldn’t get anything. I’m thankful I did get it.

“I’m still aware of it, I know my triggers and stuff like that. It’s been over 10 years of finding out, how do I get anxiety, what triggers it, how can I prepare for it and what do I do when I get it. As soon as I realised that I do get anxiety, and I do get the odd panic attack, and I took it in as part of me then things got better. I did read a book, The Four Gifts of Anxiety, which helped me a lot.”

Plunkett says that it’s now easier to open up about it than when he started his career. “I never heard it in the dressing room until [Marcus] Trescothick’s situation,” he said. “It would sort of be like ‘mate, what you talking about? You’ll be fine.’ But I feel like it would be different now, if someone came up to you now in the dressing room, a youngster says ‘Listen mate, I don’t know what’s going on, I feel like…’ you’d be open to speaking about it. You know what anxiety and stress and all that can do to people. We’ve seen what it can do to people. It’s a good place where you can speak to people and not feel embarrassed and ashamed about it. You should be open to speak about it.

“It’s more common than people think. When people do get it, they think that it’s just them by themselves. But you do speak about it and realise you’ve had it, and then that person will say ‘this is what worked for me’, and you’ll speak to more people. It’s a bit like the cricket situation where you take different bits from different people. I might do a bit of meditating, and this guy might do more mindfulness and that kind of stuff.”


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