The Investec Ashes 2015 June 29, 2015

Wood fires up England attack - Jones

Alan Gardner and Tom Kingham

Play 06:31
'Wood is England's danger man' - Jones

Simon Jones has identified Durham fast bowler Mark Wood as one of England's "danger men" as they attempt to regain the Ashes this summer. Wood has only played two Tests, making his debut against New Zealand last month, but Jones, a member of England's feted 2005 attack, has been impressed at how quickly he has adapted to international cricket.

With his pace and ability to bowl reverse swing, Wood has been likened to Jones in a bowling line-up that bears passing resemblance to the one which helped England to victory ten years ago. Jones, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were the "fab four" seamers, ably supported by Ashley Giles' left-arm spin; this time around, England's attack will be led by their most successful new-ball partnership, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with Wood, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali the incumbent support.

"With us, Fred and Harmy were the impact bowlers, the enforcers," Jones said, "I was skiddy, reverse swing, conventional swing; Hoggy swing; Gilo hold an end up, take some vital wickets and catches.

"They now have Jimmy, the leading Test wicket-taker in English cricket, great skills, all-round game is exceptional; Stuart Broad, tall, can be the enforcer; Stokesy can pitch it up or bowl short, be the enforcer, so they've got options with him. But Wood, for me, is the danger man, because he pitches it up and he gives it a chance to swing or nip, and he bowls at 90-plus. So they could be very dangerous if they all click at the same time. It could be a very testing time for some of the Aussies."

Simon Jones played a memorable part in England's 2005 Ashes win © Getty Images

Wood picked up nine wickets in the two-Test series against New Zealand, having dislodged Chris Jordan from the team that played in the Caribbean. His relaxed demeanour, which included celebrating a catch at Lord's by pretending to ride an imaginary horse, suggests to Jones that he can handle the pressure of an Ashes series.

"I think he's slightly shorter than me, about six foot, but he's very strong at the crease, he's got a lovely quick arm," Jones said. "I really like his approach, it works for him and I hope people don't change him. He's got good skills for a fairly young lad. He took to Test cricket really well, he's messing around, doing his little dance and he looked very comfortable, which is key, that's a sign of someone who can take to Test cricket, take to the international arena and take on these boys who are coming over."

After playing back-to-back Tests, Wood was rested at the start of the ODI series with New Zealand and Jones, who suffered repeatedly with injury during his career, said England would have to manage his workload carefully.

"I think they need to sit him down after every Test match and see how he's feeling and he has to be honest, as I was back in 2005. If you're struggling, just tell them. There's going to be time in between these Test matches for him to recover, the medical staff they have now are exceptional, so they'll have all the steps in place to deal with any situation."

Jones believes that having a settled attack, as in 2005 when England were unchanged through the first four Tests before an injury ruled Jones out of the final match at The Oval, would be beneficial.

"I think they'd like to stick with the same attack, for consistency," he said. "You don't want to be changing personnel, chopping and changing, that unsettles a team. I think you change the team if you need to, if there's an injury that's when you have to adapt. But I'd like to see England keep the same bowling attack and I'm sure they will."

The Trent Bridge Test ten years ago turned out to be Jones' last as injuries dogged him until retirement at the end of 2013. He has now written a book, The Test: My Life, and the Inside Story of the Greatest Ashes Series, reflecting on the momentous events of 2005, when England beat Australia for the first time in a generation.

It was a series that captured the imagination and is still often referred to as one of the greatest ever and Jones remembers "people stopping you in the street and talking to you, it was almost overwhelming at times". The book, which he describes as "brutally honest", concentrates each of the five Tests interspersed with the wider story of Jones' career. "I think I'll always reflect on what happened after the series. There's a lot in there that's personal."

What England would do for a pace attack to emulate the feats of Jones, Flintoff, Harmison and Hoggard. Whatever the result this summer, amid the nostalgia for 2005 those four will have plenty of opportunities to reminisce.

"We were a special unit, we spent a lot of time together, we played for three or four years before that series, as a team," Jones said. "It was almost like a family, to a certain extent, and we're all very close, even though we haven't seen each other for a while. When we do catch up it's just like we've never been apart."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo and Tim Kingham a video producer

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