Can World Cup winner help popularise Cricket stateside?

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Liam Plunkett is exploring coaching and playing cricket in America, alongside working with a new travel firm, US Sports Travel, all whilst completing a master’s degree in Strategic Leadership.

The former Durham, Yorkshire, Surrey and England bowler is aiming to be involved in the creation of Major League Cricket in America next year. However, he hasn’t quite hung up his bowling boots yet as the right opportunity in the Vitality Blast or Hundred might tempt him back across the pond.

The 37-year-old, who featured 124 times for England including the World Cup win in 2019, has a passion for learning and travelling which is why he joined US Sports Travel. As a big Philadelphia Eagles fan Plunkett shares a love for American sport and brings a unique perspective to the brand as a professional cricketer.

Plunkett spoke to the Association during Professional Players Federation Career Transition Week. During the week, the PPF and PCA are showcasing the plethora of services and opportunities offered by player associations to help athletes prepare for their lives after sport. He discusses his life in America and his ambitions for the future after a career in professional cricket…

  • How did the move to Philadelphia come about and how has the first six months been?
  • I’ve been back and forth from the states for 15 years with my wife Emeleah and I’ve spent a lot of time here. It was only a couple of years back that someone reached out to me about Major League Cricket (MLC) whilst I was at Surrey and I was interested.
  • When I finished with Surrey it gave me a chance to come across and help MLC. I’m living at my home just outside of Philadelphia, coaching during the week and helping out with the strength and conditioning for the Major League guys. It’s an amazing opportunity and if someone had offered me this 15 years ago I would’ve snapped their hand off.
  • What’s the level of cricket like in America?
  • It’s mainly semi-professional but the Major League is professional. I’m going to be head coach of one of the major league teams in Houston and we’re playing against USA and Scotland so that’s obviously professional.
  • There’s a lot of good players that are signing contracts to the Major League that are from South Africa, New Zealand and Asia and eventually these guys will be eligible to play for USA, making the squad much stronger. My role is to help them out now and put professional practises into place with their training.
  • How are you adjusting to life outside of playing professionally?
  • I like it. My own cricket is self-lead now so I don’t have to report into a specific team which means each day is structured differently. They’re pretty long days because I’m up doing admin work in the morning, then I’ll do my own physio fitness, drive an hour to work and in the evenings I can be coaching from 5pm until 10pm, but it’s very enjoyable.
  • I’m also doing my master’s in Strategic Leadership which I was offered on the Team England Player Partnerships programme (TEPP). I get a couple of hours during the day to focus on that and it really excites me. It feels like I’m on the move constantly but I’m looking forward to playing some Minor League Cricket which starts soon. It’s like I get the best of both worlds now.
  • Are you trying to spread your interests and look to your future with coaching, playing and getting involved with US Sports Travel?
  • The US Sports Travel is a great venture to be involved with. In terms of sport around the world I think America does it the best and it’s not that easy to come over here and be looked after properly. We offer an unbelievable service where you get a good price to watch some amazing sport with likeminded people and everything is taken care of, so it feels like a proper holiday.
  • My main role out here is being a player/coach for Major League Cricket and helping to set up this new organisation to make it more professional. So the master’s that I’m studying for is very much linked to what I’m already doing with the Major League. It opens up my options for when it starts next year because I want to play for a couple of years but I could also look to be part of the management or part of the board.
  • What’s been the biggest challenge so far with the change from professional cricket to what you’re doing now?
  • After winning the World Cup in 2019 I felt like I was ready for something else. So in terms of challenges I guess for me it’s been focusing on going back to school. I’ve never really spent this much time on a computer with writing essays because you don’t have to do it when you’re a cricketer.
  • There are little challenges here and there but I’m used to the structured side of things because of being involved with England, the county game and the PCA, now I’m part of it putting things in place for these guys out here.
  • What support have you had from the PCA over the last few years?
  • The PCA has been great. Tom Jones (PCA Player Development Manager) was a big help to me and I managed to start my level three coaching which I’ve almost finished now. I also studied four courses with help from the PCA, so they were always on the end of the phone and reaching out to me which was very useful.

"There’s so many opportunities out here, I just want to help grow Cricket and make it huge in America."

  • What are your personal aims in life now that you’re coming to the end of being a professional cricketer?
  • I’d love to be involved in Major League Cricket or USA Cricket as a Head Coach or be in a managerial role. I just want to keep myself learning with these courses so I can make myself a good leader, whether that’s as a coach, on the board or even a chief executive in the future. There’s so many opportunities out here I just want to help grow Cricket and make it huge in America.
  • If a Vitality Blast or Hundred side came calling for your services this summer would you consider it?
  • To be honest it would have to be the right opportunity. I’m going to keep myself fit and it would depend on what was happening with my cricket over here. I’m still available to play but it’s taken a while to recover from injury. I’ve been working with a Major League Baseball physio to get myself running again so if I felt I was in a good place I would consider it.

US Sports Travel is a package trip provider. They offer sporting experiences in multiple cities across the United States of America. Log-in to your PCA profile to view details and find contacts for preferential rates for PCA members. Visit the company’s website to find out more; https://ussportstravel.co.uk/