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News

Mark Wood plays down expectations of Ashes involvement

"I will definitely not play all five [Ashes Tests]... if people are playing well, I might not play any"

Mark Wood and Jofra Archer were back in action, Bangladesh vs England, 1st ODI, Mirpur, March 1, 2023

Mark Wood has played three Tests in the last 12 months  •  Getty Images

Mark Wood has played down his expectations of involvement in England's bid to regain the Ashes this summer, suggesting that he is unlikely to play more than two or three of the five Tests against Australia.
Wood was England's leading wicket-taker and best bowler during their 4-0 defeat on the 2021/22 tour, but has only played three Tests since due to injuries and the ECB's attempts to manage his workload this winter.
Ben Stokes has stated his desire to have eight fit seamers available for selection come the first Test at Edgbaston on June 16, but Wood suggested that, fitness-permitting, there could be "10 to 12 lining up", adding that he expects the series to be "a group effort".
England took five frontline seamers to New Zealand last month - James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Matthew Potts and Olly Stone- while there are five more with Test caps in Bangladesh for the ongoing white-ball tour: Jofra Archer, Sam Curran, Saqib Mahmood, Chris Woakes and Wood himself.
"I will definitely not play all five [Ashes Tests]," Wood said, speaking to touring media in Chattogram. "I was delighted to play four out of five in Australia. I was knackered, wrecked, exhausted [but] that was a big tick in my box to say that in a big series, I can do it, if Stokesy or Baz [McCullum] want me to play.
"More than likely, with the bowling stock we have, especially at home, I probably won't even play four. They might even want me for one or two, if they need a pace element. He [Stokes] might want to mix it up to keep people fresh, but if people are playing well, I might not play any.
"I very much doubt, from the way they have managed me, [that I will play] four. If they want three or four, I will put my hand up."
Along with Harry Brook, Wood was one of two England players involved in all three of the T20I tour to Pakistan, the T20 World Cup and the Test tour to Pakistan, and took a two-month break before the Bangladesh tour in order to give him a chance to recharge mentally and physically.
"It was lovely, to be honest," Wood said of his time off. "To be able to spend time at home and not think about cricket for a little bit was really nice. It's made us hungrier when I've come back in.
"It sits really well with me. In the past there have been times I shouldn't have played and I have. Having it taken out of your hands, saying' gear up for this one', you can fully focus your mind and body.
"The breaks have helped prolong me a bit more than previous years, when I've tried to play everything. I am never going to turn down the chance to play for England: if they want me I will be there and trying my best, but if they decide to rest us, I get it and [will be] gearing up for the next one."
After this tour, he will play for Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL before the Ashes starts in June. The Hundred follows in August, building into England's white-ball fixtures in September and the 50-over World Cup in India in October-November. His wife Sarah is also expecting a daughter at the end of May.
"With my record, I might get [through] two of them," Wood joked, "so it'll be nice to have had that time off at the start of the year. I think it's hard for some multi-format players to juggle but Rob Key's really good with speaking, 'look, I think we'll give you a little bit off there and then come flying back in for here.'
"I've done interviews in the past where I've said, 'of course I'm thinking about the Ashes in the background' [but] I'm actually not. There's so much going on before: we've got this, the T20s, the IPL and then the Ashes after that. I've got the birth of my daughter in between that, so it's going to be a massive time, I'm not really thinking that far ahead."