Matches (12)
T20 World Cup (4)
IND v SA [W] (1)
WI Academy in IRE (1)
T20 Blast (6)
News

Mark Wood denied chance to test out left knee after overcoming 'speed bump'

England quick wants match practice before T20 World Cup after a long lay-off

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
29-May-2024
Mark Wood missed the first T20I with a niggle, Edgbaston, May 24, 2024

Mark Wood has been managing a knee injury  •  Getty Images

With two washed-out games out of three in their series against Pakistan, England's preparation for the T20 World Cup has been some way short of ideal. Mark Wood said they were "deflated" by Tuesday night's abandonment and with less than a week until their opening match against Scotland in Barbados, his own fitness remains something of an unknown.
Wood was due to replace the rested Jofra Archer in Cardiff and was hoping to "test out" his left knee after bowling off his full run-up in training, albeit with heavy strapping. He has not bowled in a competitive match since England's fifth Test in India in early March, and has not played a T20 fixture since featuring for Lucknow Super Giants at the IPL over a year ago.
While Wood believes it is "important" for him to get some match practice before flying to the Caribbean, the final match of the series at The Oval on Thursday is also under threat from the weather. England will fly out on Friday morning. "The lads were itching to get out at Cardiff," Wood said. "I don't want a repeat of that tomorrow: hopefully, the rain stays away and we get some practice ready for the World Cup.
"Obviously, it's not ideal when you schedule four games and we might only get one or two. It was great we got a run-out the other day [at Edgbaston]... that's why these games are important. Yes, we have got experience, but warm-up games always give you a sense of different things you can tinker with; who's in good form, who needs to work on other things."
The washouts have been particularly frustrating for England after the ECB decided to bring their players home early from the IPL, a move which caused some disquiet in India. Wood said the squad have still benefitted from spending time together, and specifically with psychologist David Young who has returned on a short-term basis.
"It was great to have a session with David Young… it felt very similar to a session we had with him in 2019," Wood said. "Jos [Buttler] spoke really well in that session about what we're looking for as a team, and went over a few old things that strike hard with our team. Most teams around the world will say the same things, and Jos wants to get away from that and be really specific."
England's build-up has been in stark contrast to their preparation for the 2022 T20 World Cup, which they won, after playing seven T20Is in Pakistan and three more in Australia, one of which was a no-result due to rain. "Whatever preparation we get, that's what we're going to have to go with," Wood said. "There were plenty of games before the last one, but who's to say it won't work the other way around?
"You can look at both sides: some lads have been playing at the IPL, and they're match-ready… the lads that haven't, is there a freshness? At the IPL, you're playing all the time: other lads have seen your tricks, they've seen what you're doing. Of course, it's different conditions, and you have to adapt. But in terms of fresh legs, I might be going into that tournament feeling fresh."
Wood arrived in India for last year's 50-over World Cup short on match practice and struggled: he conceded 55 runs in five wicketless overs in England's opening match against New Zealand, and finished the tournament with six wickets at 58.16. Perhaps that is why he is so keen to play at The Oval: "I was in a position to bowl quickly and test [my knee] out," he said. "I'm really happy with where I've managed to get to, after a little bit of a speed bump."
He appears unlikely to start the tournament - England picked what they consider to be their strongest XI at Edgbaston - but recent experience suggests that they will have to dip into their squad. In Australia, 18 months ago, they were without five players through injury by the final, including Wood himself. "As a group, we've all got to be ready to go and not be caught cold," he said.
Wood believes he will have to be flexible if he does play: "In Twenty20, you've got to try to be able to bowl in all phases. I usually bowl one at the top, a couple in the middle and one at the end. I was really happy with how things went in Australia: I know it's a different surface, but the last World Cup, I was pleased with how I came out there. I'll be trying to repeat that."
He also believes that he can feature in the same side as the returning Jofra Archer, as he did during the 2019 50-over World Cup. "That's a question for the management, but I've played with Jofra before and I don't see it like 'me or him'. I don't see why we can't play in the same team, but maybe it's up to the management to manage our bodies and see how we get through the tournament."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98