Mark Wood wants to make his return to Test cricket in Pakistan later this winter and remains fully committed to the format after recovering from his latest serious injury.
Wood played his first game for England in six months on Friday and clocked speeds of 97mph in his second over to prove his recovery from double elbow surgery.
High pace is in demand in all formats and at 32 Wood could be tempted to see this as his chance to cash in on the final few years of his career and hit the franchise circuit.
But he says he is ‘all in’ with England now which is a huge boost for the Test and white-ball sides given his value in all forms of the game.
One of the major recommendations of the High Performance Review conducted by Sir Andrew Strauss is to implement a new system of central contracts with multi-year deals a strong possibility for those players the board would like more control over. England would like to give Wood one of those deals once they are approved by the board.
“One day we will have a conversation (franchise cricket) but at the moment, I’m all in with England,” he said. “For me England will always come first and if I can fit anything else in then great but from an injury point of view I think it’s more a case of where can I get things in and where makes sense.”
England will need pace on these pitches when they return for the Tests in December. The weather will be cooler and the pitches possibly a bit livelier than the graveyards of the Australia series earlier this year but England will not get away with a diet of right-arm fast medium that wins Tests at home. Wood can reverse the ball too at high pace (watch him dismiss Babar Azam in the video below), so England will be keen to get two Tests out of him in the three match series if he comes through the World Cup first in Australia.
“If they want me (for the Tests in Pakistan), I’ll be ready to go,” he said. “Having that long lay-off all summer, I felt really tired after four overs. That’s mental to think that after four overs I felt rank. During the World Cup I’ll get more up to speed with the games and stuff like that but during the World Cup, at some point, I’ll have to practise with the red ball and try and get my workloads up a little bit to get ready for here. I want to play Test cricket.”
Wood’s injury developed over the winter after a heavy workload in the Ashes and he broke down after the first Test of the Caribbean tour on a featherbed in Antigua. An operation on his right elbow failed to clear up the problem and he needed further surgery in July after abandoning his comeback when he experienced pain in the joint after playing for his club side, Ashington.
The follow-up surgery removed a piece of tendon that was “trapped” in his elbow. “I mentioned to the surgeon that I felt it more bowling away swing (mimes rotating his elbow) so when he knocked me out he was turning my wrist and arm and a ligament kept flapping into my joint all the time. So he cut the ligament off and since then it has been fine. ‘
The plan is for Wood to play two more matches in the series, both next week in Lahore. They will continue to experiment with their XI on Sunday when the series resumes at the National Stadium with Chris Woakes fit again too.