Speedster gunning for Pakistan as England prepare for Champions Trophy semi in Cardiff
MARK WOOD has revealed the surge of pride and confidence he feels whenever Eoin Morgan asks him to take a wicket.
The Durham fast bowler is now Morgan’s go-to man when the England captain needs to break a partnership.
And Wood has delivered by dismissing many of the world’s best batsmen.
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In the past three weeks, Wood’s scalps have included Hashim Amla, Kane Williamson, David Warner and Steve Smith. He does it with speed, skill and a chunk of bravado.
Wood has become one of the key men in England’s attempt to win the Champions Trophy.
He dismissed South African star Amla in a warm-up game, then took the key wicket of Williamson in the group win over New Zealand as England qualified for the semi-finals.
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Wood followed that up by snaring Warner and Smith as Morgan’s side sent the Aussies packing on Saturday in their final round-robin match.
Now the Durham speedster will be gunning for Pakistan in tomorrow’s semi in Cardiff.
What a contrast from when Wood underwent three ankle operations and, only a few months ago, wondered whether his international career was at an end.
Wood, 27, said: “You lift up, push your shoulders back, puff your chest out a little. You feel like the captain really needs you and want to be the man who changes the game. That’s what I’ve tried to do.
“It’s a good feeling to have the confidence of the captain. I don’t know if it makes me try a little harder but I seem to be getting some of the best players out. It’s a nice knack to have and hopefully I can keep it up.
“My body is holding up really well. The backroom staffs have been fantastic — they roll me in Sellotape and bubble-wrap between games.”
Wood added: “Being involved with England at the moment is fantastic.
“We have one hell of a team and I absolutely love being part of it. We have so many game-changers.
“On Saturday against Australia, when we went out after the rain delay and Morgs hit those first two balls ball for four, everyone just thought, ‘Here we go, let’s fight fire with fire’.
“I don’t know if Australia were expecting it but it shifted the momentum back towards us. That fantastic partnership was from two real leaders. Morgs is obviously our captain and Ben Stokes is a real leader in the way he carries himself and drags everyone else along with him.”
T20 SQUAD v SOUTH AFRICA
T20 SQUAD v SOUTH AFRICA: Roy, Hales, Malan, Morgan (capt), Bairstow, Billings, Livingstone, Buttler (wk), Dawson, Jordan, Plunkett, Willey, T Curran, J Overton, Wood, Crane.
Wood is now dreaming of next winter’s Ashes showdown in Australia.
He said: “I am thinking about The Ashes, of course I am. If I can do well in a white-ball tournament and then back it up by being consistent with the red ball, I’d love to get back in the Test team.”
England have called up Hampshire leg-spinner MASON CRANE, 20, for the three-match Twenty20 series with South Africa from June 21-25.
He joins big-hitting Lancashire batsman Liam Livingstone and Surrey seamer Tom Curran in the 16-man squad.
Senior players Joe Root, Stokes, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid are being rested.