Wood focused on task at hand

Published: Saturday 20th June 2015 by The News Editor

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It is hard to escape the impression that Mark Wood has timed his run to national prominence perfectly, at the start of England’s Ashes summer.

Yet as he prepared for his home international debut in the Royal London Series decider against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street, the Durham fast bowler was trying to put to one side any thoughts of taking on Australia next.

The first Investec Test is less than three weeks away, and Wood will be pencilled into England’s plans by many after being named in the 14-man pre-Ashes training camp set to travel to Spain to get to know new coach Trevor Bayliss.

They will depart in especially good heart if Eoin Morgan’s team can prevail on Saturday and edge their run-fest series against the Kiwis 3-2.

And Wood is determined to do his bit in front of his own crowd, before he starts getting too excited about future Test assignments.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about the Ashes in the back of my mind, but this is a huge game in terms of the way English cricket has made strides forward,” he said.

Series victory will be a significant achievement, but pushing World Cup finalists so close already has helped to re-engage England’s supporters.

Wood added: “I’d like to think we can get the result we’re looking for, although that isn’t the be-all and end-all.

“The way we’ve played our cricket is the most important thing – and if we play with the same attacking mindset we’ve had over the last couple of games, then I hope the result will be the right one.”

It is hard for Wood to ignore the Ashes completely, though, especially as he never imagined he could be involved this time last year.

“I would hope to be in the side for that first Ashes game,” said the 25-year-old.

“Whether I make it or not, I don’t know, but I think I did okay in the Test series against New Zealand – so I’d hope that I can hold my place.

“England have a lot of top quality bowlers, so I’m going to have to do well in the training camp and hope to impress in the nets.”

He has a cunning plan in mind to clinch the deal, by reserving his quickest deliveries in the nets for Test captain Alastair Cook.

“Maybe I’ll have to charge in and bowl a few bouncers at Cooky, and that will persuade him to put me in the team,” he said, with a grin.

Joining England’s attack against Australia was a far-fetched prospect for Wood – until impressing for the Lions last winter and then breaking into the Test squad for the drawn series with the Kiwis.

“This time last year, I would never have thought it would be possible to be talking about making an Ashes team,” he said.

“I don’t think anything anyone would have really.

“I was relatively unknown and hadn’t played many games, so the prospect of potentially playing in an Ashes series is massive.

“It’s something I’m really excited about.”

England were set to make a late decision on the fitness of wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler after he split the webbing in his left hand in practice drills and needed stitches.

If as expected Buttler is absent, Jonny Bairstow is in line to replace him behind the stumps after being summoned as cover.

Published: Saturday 20th June 2015 by The News Editor

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