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News

Wood: 'Trying my best to prove I can mix it in the IPL with the best players'

LSG pacer reveals he was "underprepared" during his IPL debut with CSK in 2018; wants to prove he is "up to this standard" now

Mark Wood is hoping to prove that he is good enough to play with and against the best players in the world at the IPL, five years after a chastening first experience in the tournament.
Wood, who has taken eight wickets in his first two matches for Lucknow Super Giants, arrived in India for the 2023 season with a solitary IPL appearance to his name, bowling four wicketless overs for Chennai Super Kings which cost 49 runs back in 2018.
He was signed by Super Giants for INR 7.5 crore (£750,000 approx.) in the 2022 auction, and was then retained for 2023 after missing last season due to an elbow injury which also ruled him out of England's home international summer.
"I don't think I was really prepared for CSK at that time," Wood told reporters in Lucknow. "I'd just come off the back of a Test match tour [in New Zealand] and I hadn't prepared well. That was my own fault, really; I went into that game a bit underprepared and didn't do myself justice.
"Coming back to the IPL, England have had such a big schedule, I've had injuries, time with my family - I've tried to factor all that in and it's just never been a good time to come back. I would have come back last year but unfortunately I had elbow surgery.
"I'm here this year and trying my best to contribute for Lucknow, trying to repay the faith that they've shown in me, sticking by me and picking me again. So far I've absolutely loved it: KL Rahul has been brilliant with me. The management have been excellent, keeping my role clear, what they expect… hopefully I can repay the faith that they've shown in me."
When asked what his aims were for IPL 2023, Wood replied: "To try and prove a point, or to try and prove that I'm up to this standard. The last time I was at Chennai, I was nowhere near the mark really, was I? I played one match and I got smashed.
"I felt like I had a bit of unfinished business, I guess, in terms of trying to come here and prove myself on a big stage. I've played for England in World Cup finals - both 50-over and T20 - but I hadn't cracked the IPL, so this time, I'm trying my best to prove that I can mix it in the IPL with the best players."
Wood took 5 for 14 on debut against Delhi Capitals, then 3 for 49 in Monday night's defeat to Super Kings, making him the early pace-setter in the race for the Purple Cap. He revealed that he was reluctant to wear it during Super Giants' second game, before eventually giving into team manager Avinash 'George' Vaidya.
"I'm here this year and trying my best to contribute for Lucknow, trying to repay the faith that they've shown in me, sticking by me and picking me again. So far I've absolutely loved it: KL Rahul has been brilliant with me."
Mark Wood
"Our manager, George, was desperate for me to wear the Purple Cap in the last game, but I was a little bit apprehensive to put it on," Wood said. "It's not really in my character to put it on and be a bit showy. It was only one game!
"If it was halfway through the tournament and I was at the top then maybe, but I was a little bit reluctant to put it on, to be honest. I felt a bit embarrassed, in a way, to wear it. The cap was a little bit tight when I put it on, it was giving me a bit of bother - but George managed to convince me to put it on."
Wood has taken advice from Rahul throughout both games and said that he would "use the experience" of Lucknow's captain. "He's someone from India, he knows the pitches well, [and] he's a vastly experienced player in these conditions," Wood said, "so [I will] use him and use my own knowledge, and try and come up with the best plan on the field for these wickets.
"It's great to get the wickets. That's what my role was going to be, coming to LSG. I went for a lot of runs in the last game, not so many in the first game… somewhere in between would be perfect."
He has bowled with good pace, but believes there is "probably still a little bit in the tank" over the next twelve league games. "The ones I've seen on TV, I've been around that 140-143 [kph] mark, which has been a bit disappointing," Wood said.
"That first game, I was slipping a little bit and was a bit wary of that, but I still got five wickets. As long as I'm still delivering pace and some sort of accuracy for the captain, that's what I'll try and do."