LIAM PLUNKETT has been backed to become England's version of Mitchell Johnson if he makes his return for England in the opening Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's this week.
The 29-year-old Yorkshire seamer has been recalled to England's squad, seven years after his last Test appearance, having benefited from making the short move from Durham to Headingley before the start of last season.
But having worked with Plunkett for the last two seasons, Yorkshire first team coach Jason Gillespie - a former Australian Test bowler himself - has no doubt that he can perform the same role as Johnson does to such devastating effect.
Johnson took 37 wickets during Australia's 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England during the winter, bowling mainly in short bursts before captain Michael Clarke replaced him, and Gillespie believes England should use Plunkett in a similar manner if they want to get the best out of him.
"He can bowl long spells because he's so fit and strong and if he is bowling well keep him going and some days it will work and other days it won't and Australia found that out pretty quickly with Mitch," said Gillespie.
"Sometimes he went for 30 runs in four overs but the way Clarke used him is some of the best captaincy you'll see. That is a team with plans who know how they want to go about it and all the players on the field know exactly what they are doing.
"Every player in that team knew exactly what Johnson was trying to do - it was either nose or toes. He is going to go for runs and we know that about Liam here at Yorkshire but we know what he's trying to do. He bowls 90mph and if you've got an asset like that why wouldn't you bowl him in short bursts?"
Plunkett's recall comes after he has taken 24 wickets, the fourth highest tally in division one, at just 24 runs apiece having been encouraged to bowl fast from the moment he arrived at Yorkshire.
The turnaround in his career also follows a difficult period in his life when he was banned twice for drink driving, since when he has changed his lifestyle and Gillespie has nothing but praise for his attitude and commitment since he made the switch to Yorkshire.
"He had already acknowledged all that and was working his butt off and he was fit and strong," stressed Gillespie. "He'd made the decision long before he signed for Yorkshire. He just wanted an opportunity.
"I'd seen him bowl and always thought he was a really good cricketer and then I met the guy and I liked him. He spoke honestly, he acknowledged he'd stuffed up and he just wanted an opportunity.
"I didn't see any risks with a bloke that bowls 90mph and can hit the ball out of the ground. He's a good lad, who made a couple of errors of judgement, but people do that and that's what happens."
Gillespie was speaking after the second day of Yorkshire's championship match against Nottinghamshire was virtually washed out at Headingley, where only 9.3 overs were possible.
Yorkshire progressed to 76-2, still trailing Nottinghamshire by 129 runs, but 20-year-old York batsman Jack Leaning continued to impress and reached an unbeaten 35 in only his third championship appearance while captain Andrew Gale finished unbeaten on 23.
LV= County Championship
Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire
at Headingley Carnegie
Nottinghamshire First Innings
P A Jaques c Lyth b Bresnan 20
A D Hales b Patterson 12
M J Lumb c Bairstow b Bresnan 45
J W A Taylor lbw b Brooks 3
S R Patel c A U Rashid b Brooks 0
M H Wessels c Lyth b Brooks 24
C M W Read run out 30
P M Siddle not out 39
A Shahzad lbw b Bresnan 0
L J Fletcher c Bresnan b A U Rashid 29
A R Adams c Bresnan b A U Rashid 0
Extras (lb3) 3
Total (56 overs) 205
Fall: 1-32 2-36 3-46 4-46 5-90 6-135 7-139 8-139 9-204.
Bowling: Bresnan 16-3-43-3, Brooks 16-3-74-3, Patterson 15-6-44-1, Pyrah 4-1-12-0, A U Rashid 5-0-29-2.
Yorkshire First Innings
A Lyth c Read b Siddle 0
A Z Lees c Read b Siddle 9
J A Leaning not out 35
A W Gale not out 23
Extras (lb5 nb4) 9
Total 2 wkts (16.5 overs) 76
Fall: 1-0 2-21.
Bowling: Siddle 11.2-3-21-2, Fletcher 5-1-15-0, Adams 8-2-26-0, Shahzad 2-0-9-0.