Mark Wood played his last Test in May 2018, missing the home series against India and the away series in Sri Lanka. But he is back in the squad now and is “over the moon”.
A back injury to Olly Stone ruled him out of the upcoming three-Test series against the West Indies and Wood was roped in as the replacement.
“I’m over the moon,” he told talkSPORT. “Obviously it’s not nice for Stoney. I’ve been in his position where I’ve been injured and somebody else comes in to replace you, but his loss is my gain. Hopefully I can go out there and have a positive impact on the team.”
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Jonny Bairstow hasn't given up on the gloves just yet!
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 19, 2019
This will not be the first tour to the Caribbean islands for the 29-year-old, having travelled with the England squad on the 2015 series where the three Tests were tied 1-1. Wood didn’t get a game back then – since then, he has played 12 Tests and taken 30 wickets at 41.73 – but it left him with enough learning.
For instance, he knows not to take the West Indies lightly. “My first tour was actually to the West Indies with England,” he recalled. “Everyone was saying we should roll over them – ‘it will be 3-0’ (in 2015) – but we ended up drawing the series 1-1 and they played some pretty good cricket.
“They always get up for an England series and it will not be as easy as people think. But I certainly do feel we are favourites with the exciting squad we’ve got and the performances we’ve just put in in Sri Lanka. It’s not easy to win [in Sri Lanka], so if we can do that I’m sure we can win in the West Indies.”
Test yourself on England's previous Tests in the West Indies. https://t.co/UZJSqdtpUb
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 18, 2019
Wood, whose most recent crack was for the England Lions against Pakistan A in the UAE, where he picked up 12 wickets in six matches across formats, has helped him “start enjoying my cricket again”. And in a huge World Cup year, he thinks that attitude will be vital for the whole team.
Personally, one of the things that adds a bit of ‘fun’ to his day are the pre-match football warm-ups, he admitted.
Football as a pre-match warm-up has been an issue of contention in the England camp ever since wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow got injured before the first Test against Sri Lanka last year and missed two Tests of the series. Ashley Giles, the new director of cricket, isn’t a fan of it, insisting that “the benefits from a psychological and fun point of view are outstripped by the dangers”.
But Wood loves playing football and thinks the practice will continue for some time. “I’m absolutely loving it, it gets me going in the morning,” he said. “The football’s a major talking point, we have things thrown up, formations, managers, transfers and stuff like that. So it’s a good crack in the morning, it’s what everyone gets up for, gets their bodies going, so I think that’ll be staying for the short term.”