In the end, Plunkett had enough credit left in his fast-bowling bank to survive the culling ECB

England's fast-bowlers have all been able to do the math. They knew that one of them included in the extended squad for the series against Pakistan was going to miss out on the final World Cup party. Including them all and picking just two spinners was always a non-starter, and so they knew. For the past two weeks, each of their attributes have been assessed, scrutinised. The pressure has been intense. It can't have been an easy time for any of them.

In the end David Willey was the one to miss out, a cruel blow to a decent man and a very good cricketer. Not that it was necessarily the wrong call. And who knows? Willey may yet play a part if injuries strike, but for now, his World Cup dream is over.

Liam Plunkett's isn't, however. He had enough credit in the bank, accrued over four years of generally excellent performances, to be included in Eoin Morgan's 15-man squad. It wasn't a given. A year ago, Plunkett would have been a shoe-in. Over the last few months, his place became arguably less clear cut.

Having just turned 34, he is coming to the end of his international career and earlier in the season he admitted to struggling for form. Understandably, his pace has dropped, although in the Pakistan series he still occasionally touched 90mph, and with Jofra Archer able to bowl at any stage of the innings, including in the middle overs when Plunkett usually gets to work, Willey's left-arm variety could have edged him out.

The competition was certainly fierce. "You always have that slight doubt in your mind," Plunkett said at the launch of England's World Cup kit. "Are they going to go down this route, that route? I feel like I deserve to be in the squad but you just don't know what they're thinking.

"You get compared a lot. I've been through a lot since the World Cup in 2007 and whatever squad you're in, there's always someone chasing your tail. Whoever is in the county circuit. You're always getting compared to someone."

The wait on Monday was a nervous one. Plunkett had a workout, trying to take his mind off things as he waited for Ed Smith's call to deliver the news, good or bad. "You don't know when it's going to come. You know that they're chatting," he said. His wife, a financial analyst, held off telling him she had earned a promotion at work until he found out. As it transpired, it was a double celebration. "She's worked just as hard to get there, so, good to hear that news as well."

Alongside Chris Woakes, Plunkett has arguably been England's most consistent bowler of the past four years with his hit the deck style in the middle overs. Since the last World Cup, which he wasn't selected for, he has taken 85 wickets at 28 in 53 games, the eighth most of any bowler in the world and behind only Adil Rashid for England.

His main role has been as Morgan's enforcer in the middle overs, the man tasked with smashing out a back of a length, mixing up his pace, using his variations to try and take wickets. It's worked too. He has the best strike rate of any England bowler to take more than 30 wickets in ODI cricket, testament to his uncanny ability to break a partnership more often than not.

"That's what I've done well, I've been successful at," he said of his middle overs role. "And I don't think they'd want me to do anything different. You're always working on your game. I've worked a lot on my death bowling, you try and improve.

"I think every bowler needs to have the start, the middle and the end, be able to do it all. Some aren't as good at stuff than other people but if you're called upon, you need to step up and do whatever you're asked to do."

These days, being a bowler is not for the feint-hearted no matter at what stage of the innings they bowl. With 350 now becoming a par score, expectations have at least changed from when Plunkett first made his England bow. "When you were younger, I remember bowling nine overs for 50 and feeling devastated like it was the worst day of my life," Plunkett said. "It's changed a lot now."

At Trent Bridge, Woakes and Plunkett, both of whom were rested, discussed in between running drinks what they thought the bowling equivalent of scoring a half-century or hundred with the bat would be. They found it tough to quantify but they could at least agree that for a bowler to take two for 20 in an ODI these days would be like getting a double hundred with the bat. It's hard to disagree.

There probably won't be too many games in the World Cup when Plunkett goes at two an over, however. If he does, it will have been an exceptional day. But five an over, with a couple of wickets thrown? That will do him nicely. "If you're picking up two or three for 50, I'd snap someone's hand off in that middle part because you can break the game up, get two or three of their main batsmen out. It's a tricky period to bowl and get wickets."