With the 2019 World Cup less than a year away, it would not be very wrong to state that almost every player is thinking about playing the showpiece event. However, England pacer Mark Wood is an exception. Instead of focussing on the ODIs, the speedster is dreaming of becoming a regular in the England Test side.
A spate of injuries has never allowed Wood to enjoy a prolong stint in international cricket. The 28-year-old won the Ashes in his breakthrough summer of 2015. However, he has played only six Tests since then and he is now ready to make the big sacrifice to realise his Test dream.
“Test cricket is still the pinnacle for me to play. And the moment I let that dream go I might not be the same cricketer,” he said. “In the garden, I always played Tests. I always watched Tests on the telly. I’m not saying there aren’t good players playing white-ball cricket. But, if you’re regarded as a top, top player, it’s often through your Test performances. I want to play Test match cricket.”
So far, Wood has played only 12 Tests in three years. The reason behind it are the three major operations on his problematic left ankle. Not surprisingly, everyone expects him to cut his workload and concentrate on white-ball cricket ahead of the World Cup just like his compatriots Alex Hales and Adil Rashid.
However, Wood has already made it clear that he rates Test cricket as the highest stage of the game. In May this year, he even took a financial hit to cut short a spell in the Indian Premier League with Chennai Super Kings in order to return to Durham and state his Test case ahead of the first series of the summer against Pakistan.
The sacrifice paid off as his seven County Championship wickets against Derbyshire saw him keep his place for the Lord’s Test.
And although he lost it for the next match, he hopes to be a part of the squad for the five-Test series against India that starts next month.
“I came back early from Chennai because I wasn’t playing there. And it made sense for me to come back early and push for Test career,” he said. “I’d just been in the New Zealand Test. With me not playing, Chennai were really understanding and said ‘yes, we understand you want to play Test cricket’ and allowed me to leave and come home. Then I managed to do well in that game for Durham and keep my Test spot.
“Unfortunately I didn’t keep it for the Headingley game. But I’m raring to get back for at least one of the India games,” he added.
Despite the talk of wanting to play in all formats, Wood admitted he gives his best when fresh. And he comes into the ODI series against India well-refreshed having been rested for the T20 games.
“I’m sick of saying it but, as a fast bowler, you’re never going to be 100% fit,” he said. “But it’s true. I’ve been pretty good. My ankle has been fine. I’ve just been managing my body. It’s nice to say to people ‘I’ve been all right’ rather than people asking and me saying ‘yeah, I’m all right’ when really you think ‘I’m not all right’. But I actually AM all right.
“I’ve played a lot since November. So I’ve never been 100% fresh. In the past, I’ve had period of injury and then come back flying because I was fresh,” he added.
The three-match ODI series gets underway on Thursday (July 12) in Nottingham.