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Mark Wood was close to saying 'I've had enough' over ankle injury issues

Fast bowler opens up on mental health issues as he struggled to come back from surgery

George Dobell
George Dobell
Mark Wood steams in  •  Getty Images

Mark Wood steams in  •  Getty Images

England fast bowler Mark Wood has admitted he considered leaving cricket in the aftermath of a succession of injuries.
Wood was forced to undergo three operations within 12 months upon his left ankle. He revealed that around the time of his third operation, in late 2016, he had experienced mental health issues as he struggled to cope with the diminishing prospects of fulfilling his early potential.
"I was actually close a couple of times to saying 'I've had enough'," Wood told his fellow Ashington, Durham and England fast bowler, Steve Harmison, in an interview on the Cricket Collective on talkSPORT 2. "Just because I didn't think I could cope with it with my body.
"Around my third ankle operation was the hardest time because I didn't know if I wanted to do it anymore. I had just come back from my second ankle operation. Things weren't right. I knew they weren't right. I had to go for a third ankle operation.
"I ended up having some pretty bad mental health stuff with anxiety. I had a panic attack on a flight. I was sick of the rehab. I thought I'd never reach the potential I thought I had. I was generally just sick of not being the player I wanted to be. So I did contemplate thinking 'I've had enough of this, should I do something else?'
"It's not being back; that's the good bit. It's the bit where you think you've got to get back in the gym. And it's not just lifting weights; it's little exercises; it's running on the streets in the dark and going for another injection. People may think that's nothing but after four, five, six, seven times of doing it, you think, 'I've had enough of this.'"
Wood said that while he had considered a future as a white-ball specialist - an option he concedes he may yet be forced to take at some stage in the future - he never had much interest in reinventing himself as a fast-medium seamer.
"I did contemplate going down the white-ball route," Wood said. "It's less stress on my body. It's four or 10 overs. It's less stress on my body and I can still make money for my family. That could be a possibility even in the future I might have to go down. I don't know. There was one time around that third operation I was definitely like 'I'm not sure I can keep doing this'.
"I wouldn't say I contemplated bowling slower and just settling in to trying have a good little county career with Durham and maybe playing a few games for Ashington. As soon as I had a taste for international cricket, that's what I wanted. As a lad that grew up… My mum and dad are working class people. I didn't have much growing up. To feel so lucky and proud playing for England, I wanted to push myself as hard as I could."
Ultimately, Wood started to fulfil his potential around the start of 2019. He bowled with unusual pace and hostility on his return to Test cricket, in St Lucia, in February of that year and then played a key role in England's successful World Cup campaign during which he delivered the fastest ball of the tournament.
He credited the decision to lengthen his run-up - a move which allowed him to generate just as much as pace as before but without putting his body under quite as much pressure - as a defining moment in his renaissance, but also acknowledged the support of the England coaches and physios.
"The run-up was the biggest change to my longevity," he said. "Being able to bowl longer spells and stick it out. And get bigger and stronger that way. Initially, with the short run-up I was always in, out, injured, back, injured.
"Kevin Shine was the guy who always stuck by me; the England fast bowling coach. And Ottis Gibson, when he was coach, stuck by me. The physios endlessly worked with me. I'm glad I stuck with it."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo