Sunday, September 26News That Matters

Mark Wood believes England’s need for speed will propel them to T20 World Cup glory

Mark Wood is backing extreme pace to propel Eoin Morgan’s World Cup challenge on the slow pitches of India after producing one of the fastest deliveries ever by an England bowler.

Wood hit 96.3mph on the Ahmedabad speed gun during another display of speed and hostility that rushed England to a convincing victory in the third Twenty20 international.

It beat his own recorded best of 95.7mph in the 50-over World Cup final against New Zealand in 2019, and Jofra Archer’s peak of 96.1mph against Australia at Lord’s in that year’s Ashes. 

Mark Wood celebrates taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma during Tuesday's third T20 with India

Mark Wood celebrates taking the wicket of Rohit Sharma during Tuesday’s third T20 with India

Pace man Wood clocked a frightening 96.3mph on the speed gun during Tuesday's win

Pace man Wood clocked a frightening 96.3mph on the speed gun during Tuesday’s win

Only Steve Harmison’s 96.8mph in the 2004 Champions Trophy final against West Indies at the Oval has bettered it among England bowlers since the introduction of speed guns in the early 2000s.

‘I think my fastest was in the last game,’ said Wood, 31, ahead of Thursday’s fourth match against India, when England have a chance to wrap up the five-match series.

‘It was a bouncer to Rohit Sharma. I did once notch 123mph during practice at Durham when I was half running but the gun was clearly broken. I don’t know if that counts or not?’

What has counted in India is the pace partnership of Wood and Archer that was integral to England’s 50-over World Cup triumph. Now it is looking equally important to their double hopes, even though October’s T20 tournament will be played in the subcontinent. 

Wood took the wickets of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer during the third match

Wood took the wickets of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer during the third match

It paved the way for an eight-wicket win for Eoin Morgan's team and a 2-1 lead in the series

It paved the way for an eight-wicket win for Eoin Morgan’s team and a 2-1 lead in the series 

‘I’m hoping pace will be a big factor in the World Cup,’ said Wood, who has been outstanding in England’s two wins so far in this series.

‘I enjoy playing with Jofra. It brings out the best in me as I’m sure it does him. When we bowl together, it’s exciting.’

Not that it is all about speed for Wood. ‘I’m watching India’s bowlers,’ he said.

‘I played with Shardul Thakur at the IPL with Chennai and he’s got a new slower ball I’m looking to adapt to my game. Behind the scenes I’m still trying to learn new things.’

Keeping fit is crucial for Wood, who missed England’s only loss in this series with a bruised heel. He pulled out of this year’s IPL auction, even though he only has a white-ball contract with England, and his appearances will be carefully monitored ahead of the T20 World Cup and Ashes later this year.

‘It was just a bit of a niggle before the second game,’ added Wood. ‘I went through a big fitness test before the third one and the heel is fine. It wasn’t a big injury.’

The extreme pace of Jofra Archer will also be key to English success at the World Cup in India

The extreme pace of Jofra Archer will also be key to English success at the World Cup in India