Monday, September 25, 2023

England’s Mark Wood aims to unleash more Ashes ‘lightning’ against Australia at Old Trafford -Dlight News

England’s speedy Mark Wood is keen to hit Australia with more ‘lightning’ in Manchester next week and is aiming to prove that ‘lightning strikes twice’ after his heroics at Headingley.

Wood marked his return to Ashes cricket with a stirring man of the match performance for Leeds, taking match figures of 7-100 and scoring a vital 40 runs in just 16 deliveries.

His efforts helped change the tone of the series, putting England on the board after back-to-back defeats and leaving the way open for the hosts to win back the urn against all odds.

Wood’s raw pace provided an X-factor that had been lacking at Edgbaston and Lord’s, with his first ball of the match doubling as England’s fastest of the summer.

He went on to get it going on his first red-ball outing in seven months, at one point reaching 96.5mph during a ferocious opening spell, with Australia’s batting looking altogether less sure due to his mere presence in the park.

Wood revealed that his England captain and Durham teammate Ben Stokes had given him a simple instruction when he released him.

“Ben just asked me, ‘Are you ready? Are you ready to throw some lightning?’ I said yes and that was it,” he said.

“I was ready to unleash myself. I know him well and he knows me well. Having that relationship with someone makes it easier.”

Asked if he was ready to dish out more of the same at Emirates Old Trafford next Wednesday, Wood replied with a smile: “Absolutely. Lightning strikes twice, huh?”

Wood is arguably the most consistently quick bowler to ever play for England, a crown likely missing only due to the absence of accurate historical data.

But the sheer physical exertion the 33-year-old is subjected to means he has had to endure long spells out of the side.

Since his debut in 2015, he has played just 29 of England’s 109 Tests, missing many of them through injury, but Wood has set his sights on finishing strong this summer.

There are only three days between Games 4 and 5 of the series, but, with a week to prepare, he intends to be in the parade for both.

“I did four in Australia last time and three of them were in a row. It’s a great question, but one I’ve asked before and I’ll build on that experience to try and do it again,” he said.

“I’ll talk to the physio, but I guess I’ll bowl once or twice, do a couple of gym sessions, maybe some running, but it won’t be too drastic. I have to let the body recover.”

“This was my first game in a long, long time, especially Test cricket. I’ll let the body recover, get into good space, let the injuries heal and get up for the next one.”

Wood wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the pitch and couldn’t hide his delight at taking on a starring role in the middle of a contest that has captured the public’s imagination.

“It fills me with great pride to say that I can do well against Australia. It’s a challenge because they are a top, top team,” he said.

“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. Watch Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc face off. One, it’s not easy. Two, it’s really intimidating.

“They’re bowling fast, they have a good bounce and most of the time they come out victorious. Thankfully this time it’s the only one out of 100 I’ve managed to get past.”

“The 2005 Ashes was the absolute pinnacle for me: I was a great age, a teenager, and my hometown hero (Steve Harmison) was playing.

“I don’t feel like it’s that big, but it’s great to have the support, which has been amazing everywhere we’ve been. You feel it on the street walking around, people text you. It’s amazing as a nation that you can carry this weight of support with us”.

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