Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Mark Wood hopes England can avoid choppy waters after washout
Cricket Sport

Mark Wood hopes England can avoid choppy waters after washout

What should in theory be a Caribbean cruise of a group stage for England now has the potential to hit choppier waters, with Mark Wood admitting Saturday’s encounter with Australia will shape perceptions of their T20 World Cup credentials.

A loss would not be terminal to hopes of reaching the Super Eight phase. But, after Tuesday’s washout against Scotland, it may mean Jos Buttler’s defending champions need to both win and boost their net run-rate against Namibia and Oman in Antigua next week, while keeping an eye on other results.

“You never need to get up for an Australia game but it’s one that’s more important because of the points,” said Wood, as England took a day off from training in weather that would have been welcome at the Kensington Oval 24 hours earlier.

“It puts a different spin on things if we win that game compared to losing; that has a different look and feel. Lose and I’m sure you guys in the media, there will be questions asked, like the last [50-over] World Cup in India. So it’ll be an important game for us and one we’ll be desperately trying to win.”

It may be that England were striving too hard to change the story on Tuesday, the head coach, Matthew Mott, calling his players “sloppy” during the 10 overs witnessed and possibly affected by “nerves”. Wood was racked with guilt himself after seeing the wicket of George Munsey chalked off for a no-ball as Scotland made 90 for no loss.

On the plus side, it continued the resumption of Wood’s pace partnership with Jofra Archer. The latter was a touch short when shipping 10 runs from his first over but went for two in his second, deploying cutters to good effect and the nightmarish slippery short ball that comes with no discernible change of action or effort.

Both bowlers breached 90mph on the speed gun, with Wood up to 94mph thanks in part to the tail wind that possibly also helped cause that no-ball. But as Archer showed, variations are just as precious and not least on the surfaces expected here. Wood is working on two different slower balls, deploying one against Scotland that is not intended to be a significant drop in speed but rather a cutter driven into the pitch.

It is not lost on Wood that he is back in the spiritual home of fast bowling, the Caribbean being where he claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul in 2019 with a display of shock and awe in St Lucia. A bumper crowd is expected on Saturday and the Bajans – who could claim an all-time attack to rival any team – will be able to savour England’s pair, plus Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

“It is pretty cool, especially when you hear ‘Mark Wood at the Malcolm Marshall End’ over the Tannoy,” he said. “That was pretty special for me. And I was in a taxi the other day and the driver was saying: ‘I know you, you’re nippy, man, you’re nippy.’ It is good to be here and have that sort of recognition.”

skip past newsletter promotion

The 34-year-old has previously described the sensation of spells like St Lucia – or that needle-scratch of an arrival during the Ashes last summer – as being in a trance where the fielders are almost irrelevant. While plans can change ball-by-ball in Twenty20 cricket, Wood insists it is still a mental space he can find.

“You can get in that zone as a bowler [in T20 cricket]. It is more noticeable when you are not in that place because then you want an extra fielder somewhere, and you notice every little thing you are tinkering and away from your focus. If you see me [waving my arms] you’ll know I’m going to get whacked.”

If England are to keep those questions at bay and stop the ship from listing early, this semaphore will need to be kept to a minimum.

Source: theguardian.com