Mark Wood wants to prey on the minds of West Indies batsmen

Mark Wood wants to prey on the minds of West Indies batsmen just as Mitchell Johnson did during England’s dreadful 2013-14 Ashes tour as 95mph pace ace prepares for biosecure series

  • England are counting down to their three Test series with West Indies in July
  • Fast bowler Wood wants to get inside the heads of the touring batsmen
  • Wood took five for 41 against the Windies in St Lucia in February last year
  • But it remains to be seen if Wood starts first Test on July 8 amid stiff competition 
  • A change to his run-up technique has allowed Wood to eek out additional pace 

Mark Wood wants to get inside the heads of the West Indies batsmen – just like Mitchell Johnson did with England after his destructive performance in the 2013-14 Ashes.

Wood took five for 41 when England and West Indies last met, in St Lucia in February 2019, clocking nearly 95mph in one of the fastest spells by an Englishman in years. 

And he’s hoping the impression he made in that game will endure into next month’s Test series.

Mark Wood celebrates taking the wicket of Darren Sammy in St Lucia in February last year

Wood took five for 41 in St Lucia and hopes to have a similar impact against the Windies now

‘Before the 2015 Ashes, we had a big chat about Mitchell Johnson, so it’s quite nice to think West Indies might do that about me,’ he said. 

‘It would be nice if they’re having those thoughts: it proves they rate me as a cricketer and they are concerned about what I could bring.

‘That was probably the quickest I’ve bowled. I felt in a great place, mentally and physically, and I still look back on that performance with fond memories. 

‘It does give me confidence knowing I’ve done well against them. That’s what I’ll be trying to do again.’

Wood remains an integral part of England’s pace unit, even if he won’t necessarily start the three-Test series in Southampton on July 8 because of the claims of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes – not to mention Ben Stokes.

95mph quick Wood was also in stellar form as England beat South Africa at Johannesburg 

Wood, pictured with Ben Stokes (left) and Chris Woakes (right), celebrates the SA series win

But figures of nine for 100 at Johannesburg as England sealed a 3-1 win over South Africa in January confirmed Wood’s value. 

Since lengthening his run-up ahead of that Caribbean tour, he has taken 18 wickets in three Tests at just 14 apiece.

‘I wish I’d changed my run-up sooner,’ he said. ‘That was a big change. And that one five-wicket haul gave me a massive boost. 

‘It calmed me down, and meant I wasn’t trying too hard. I had the belief before, but I was frustrated I had not showed people how good I could be.’

Now, Wood, who has joined England’s biosecure bubble at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl, wants to team up with Archer for the first time in Test cricket, and resurrect the partnership that helped secure last summer’s World Cup.

‘I cannot speak for Jofra, but I definitely want to be quicker than him and I’m sure he wants to be quicker than me. 

‘During the World Cup, he used to joke that they were putting my speeds up higher deliberately. Now I want to bowl fast all the time to prove that I can bowl as fast as Jofra. If we were to play together, it would be exciting.’

Wood (middle) is looking forward to a pace-off against Jofra Archer (right) in the series 

Having excelled in West Indies last year, Wood hopes to prey on their minds this time around

Meanwhile, Wood – who has been supporting children to get active as part of Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week – expressed his concerns over the government’s apparent reluctance to sanction the return of the recreational game after prime minister Boris Johnson described the ball as a ‘natural vector of disease’.

‘It is disappointing to hear that,’ he said. ‘Clubs across the country are desperate for some cricket, just to keep them alive.

‘Safety first is paramount, but you just feel that with pubs and restaurants opening, I don’t see how cricket is so far away from that. 

Wood hopes to have a similar psychological impact as Australia’s Johnson did on England 

‘Being a non-contact sport, there must be something they can do around the ball at grassroots level, because we don’t want to miss out on the next Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer.

‘It is important we get as many people involved in the game as we can. You don’t want to lose potential cricketers to other sports.’

Yorkshire Tea National Cricket Week works with the charity Chance to Shine to support and grow the grassroots of the game in schools and communities. Join in at www.chancetoshine.org/ncw20




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