With first-match nerves out of the way, Mark Wood is ready to play his part in England’s World Cup bounce-back effort starting with Saturday’s match against Bangladesh.
Wood does not expect to necessarily keep his place in the team, despite taking two important wickets during England’s 14-run defeat at the hands of Pakistan on Monday. Nor does he think the hosts and tournament favourites will attempt to re-invent the wheel in response to their loss.
Wood claimed 2 for 53 – including the wickets of Pakistan’s top scorer, Mohammad Hafeez, for and dangerous batsman Asif Ali for just 14 – in a less-familiar middle-overs role, bowling in tandem with Moeen Ali after Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer had led the pace attack. Woakes shone with three wickets and a staggering four catches, Moeen also claimed three wickets while Archer conceded 79 runs in his wicket-less 10-over spell. That’s not to say Wood escaped any tournament debut jitters, quite the contrary.
“I cannot say for the others, but I was nervous,” Wood said. “First World Cup match. I was playing a slightly different role. I wanted to do well.
“Liam Plunkett has taken a million wickets in the middle overs and I was thinking the first thing I have to do is get a wicket. And I didn’t get a wicket until the [43rd], and I was thinking, ‘he’s still the main man!’ Yes, I was nervous, but good nerves.
“It was nice to have a couple of extra fielders out for a change. I’m used to bowling up top but this was a slightly different role. I felt Mo and myself did really well as a partnership. He was keeping it tight as well which meant I could attack a little more … so a nice time to come on and show my value in a different role.”
Wahab Riaz and Mark Wood pat each other after the game Getty Images
England will manage their fast bowlers’ workloads carefully, particularly for Wood and Woakes, who have had long-term injury issues, which means none of them are guaranteed a place against Bangladesh.
“We’ll pick whichever team best suits the conditions,” Wood said. “I’m pleased personally that it has gone well. But for the next game, Cardiff is a place with big square boundaries and Liam Plunkett has bowled well there in the past so he would probably come back in. It’s just who for or which bowler might be left out.”
Avoiding the cliché of turning a loss into a positive, Wood gave the impression England were following Joe Root’s advice and not hitting the panic button based on one defeat, which ultimately came down to poor fielding.
“It’s never nice to lose so, yes, there are lessons learned but we’ve been learning lessons for four years. This isn’t like a thing like we say we need to change the wheel,” Wood said. “We weren’t good enough in one area – the field – and that will be addressed before the next game. But I still think we’re in a pretty good place.
“Maybe we will put it down as one of those days when we were beaten by a better team and we need to improve one aspect of our game … we needed 11 Chris Woakeses in every position and we would have been all right. Now we train really hard and do a lot on our fielding.
“Whether it was the occasion, there were a lot of Pakistan fans, whether we got wound up by their batters, them smacking it, whether we just got too heated in the moment, I don’t know. But it was unlike us, normally we are a really good fielding side.”
And Wood backed his team to come back stronger against a Bangladesh team buoyed by their opening win against South Africa.
“We have a huge target on our back because we are the favourites for the tournament, the home side, everyone wants to beat us,” he said. “What we have done well over the years is bounce back well and I think we need that going into the next match regardless of what it was – Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, whoever. We need to bounce back with a bit of authority and say that we’re here to win it and put on a real show.”