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Mark Wood admits England’s rainy T20 World Cup preparations ‘not ideal’
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Mark Wood admits England’s rainy T20 World Cup preparations ‘not ideal’

Mark Wood has admitted England’s preparations for the T20 World Cup have been “not ideal” after two of their first three warmup games against Pakistan were rained off. It leaves both sides heading into Thursday’s final encounter at the Oval – and transatlantic flights the following day – far from battle-honed.

Before the 2022 tournament, held in Australia, England played a seven-match series in Pakistan, then three games against the hosts – one in Perth, also the venue of their first World Cup fixture – and a final warmup match, against Pakistan again. Fully grooved by an 11-game buildup, and having got their international travel out of the way early, they went on to win the trophy.

But instead of using that as a ­template they have taken a different approach this time and will travel to the Caribbean having played, at best, two games as a team in five months. They arrive four days before their tournament starts against Scotland in Barbados on Tuesday.

“Some lads have been ­playing in the IPL and they’re match-ready,” said Wood, who missed the IPL to ensure his fitness. “The lads that haven’t, is there a freshness? At the IPL you’re playing all the time, other lads have seen your tricks, they’ve seen what you’re doing.

“I might be going into the ­tournament feeling fresh. I’ve worked on a couple of things in training and you want the games to practise stuff, but it’s a fine balance.

“One or two of us might feel like we need a game or two to get going, but whatever preparation we get that’s what we’re going to have to go with. There were plenty of games before the last [World Cup], but who’s to say it won’t work the other way round?”

Preparations have been further disrupted by the absence of the coach, Matthew Mott, from the ­abandoned first game at Headingley for family reasons and that of the captain, Jos Buttler, from the similarly washed-out third to be at the birth of his third child.

“Life things are sometimes more important than cricket. Those ­couple of instances were,” Wood said. “I don’t think we should put a negative spin on them.

“It’s easy to look for excuses: we’ve had people away, the rain, whatever. We’re a professional side, we’re the England cricket team, we’ve got ­everything we need. We should be able to adapt and when we get out there that’s when the time to turn it on is.”

Wood insists the team have squeezed plenty of useful training into this week and also benefited from a session with Manchester City’s first-team sports psychologist, David Young. “We’ve been very specific in our training,” he said. “There have been coach-led sessions and player-led sessions. We’ve had bat versus ball, we’ve been challenged against each other in match scenarios, different phases of the game, practising our death bowling against some of our best batters.

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“It’s not ideal when they schedule four games and we might only get one or two. I’m sure they thought weather might affect one or two, but not as many as it has.

“It was great we got a run-out [at Edgbaston on Saturday]. Yes, we’ve got the experience, but warmup games always give you a sense of different things you can tinker with.”

Wood did not play at Edgbaston, but would have been in the team had play been possible at Sophia Gardens on Tuesday, where Tom Hartley would have made his T20 debut. Both can expect to get a chance should Thursday’s fixture go ahead despite more gloomy forecasts.

“Hopefully, the rain stays away and we get some practice ready for the World Cup,” Wood said. “Whatever comes our way, ultimately it’s that Scotland game we’ve got to be ready for.”

Source: theguardian.com