Mark Wood hopes to stake his claim for a late Ashes call-up when England Lions face a Queensland XII in Brisbane in a three-day match starting on Monday.
The Durham fast bowler has stepped up his comeback from the ankle problems that scuppered his hopes of selection in England’s initial Ashes squad during the first week of the Lions’ training camp in Australia, when he and the other bowlers relished the chance to bowl at the England batsmen in their preparations for the first Test at the ‘Gabba.
Now Wood can’t wait to get back on to the field in a team that will be captained by Keaton Jennings, and will also include two members of England’s Ashes squad – Tom Curran, who has yet to play since replacing Steven Finn, and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
"I’ve been building it up out here and my action feels good"
“I’ve been building it up out here and my action feels good,” said the 27-year-old, who was a member of England’s Champions Trophy squad in the summer but only played in the first two of the subsequent seven Tests.
“It’s just I’ve got no overs under my belt. So the more bowling training I can do in games the better. We’ve got this Queensland game, and then we go across to Perth. I’ve heard numerous things about the WACA nets so I’m looking forward to that. That’s my time I think. If I can build it up and then impress in those WACA nets, then hopefully I can play some part in the series.”
Wood revealed that despite his exclusion from England’s Ashes party, the door to selection was held ajar in meetings with head coach Trevor Bayliss, national selector James Whitaker and director of England cricket Andrew Strauss.
“They said that if I got my body right I’d still be in a position to have an impact in the series”
“They said that if I got my body right I’d still be in a position to have an impact in the series,” he added. “So in the back of my mind I’ve always thought I’ve got a chance. But I’m not here to put any of the lads under pressure. You don’t want anyone to get injured – I’ve had enough myself to know you don’t want people to go through that. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“I might be just in the background underneath the radar with the Lions hopefully doing well and I can just slot in. It’s a long series, so I’m still hoping at some stage I might be a part of it.”
Andy Flower, the Lions head coach, said: “Woody will definitely play in our match against Queensland. He’s looking fit and strong and full of energy. He had two good days bowling at the England players which he came through well, so this is the perfect game for him.
"He’s looking fit and strong and full of energy. He had two good days bowling at the England players which he came through well, so this is the perfect game for him."
“We’re playing a 12-a-side match as they do in the Futures League which is Australia’s main Second XI competition. We’d normally be keener on playing 11-a-side and a first-class fixture, but in this instance it will afford us the opportunity to play an extra quick bowler – and also to face an extra quick bowler from Queensland, which we expect to mean Ben Cutting being included in their team as he returns after injury.”
The Queensland team will be coached by Andy Bichel, the former Australia seamer who was a team-mate of Flower’s in his county cricket stint with Essex.
The Lions also include Tom Westley, who like Jennings and Wood is aiming to state his case for a Test recall, and Middlesex opener Nick Gubbins returns from the hamstring injury that kept him out for the last few weeks of the 2017 summer.