Wood has not played a competitive game since helping England to
victory in the World Cup final almost six months ago but the paceman is
finally ready to launch the next phase of his career.
Wood has never been better than he was in the first half of 2019,
returning to the Test team with a bang in St Lucia and then playing a
key role as Eoin Morgan's side landed the biggest prize in one-day
In the Caribbean he had been astonishingly quick, finally emerging as
the red-ball destroyer England always hoped he could be, and then
locked down the role that brought him 18 wickets in the triumphant World
Wood sent down his full 10-over allocation in the famous victory at
Lord's, removing key batsman Ross Taylor, but at a cost. When the
winning moment came, Jos Buttler's endlessly replayed run out of Martin
Guptill, Wood was off the field with a badly torn side that has kept him
on the sidelines ever since.
Wood was not considered for the first two Tests against the Proteas
but, having built his workload in the nets, he woke up on Saturday - his
30th birthday - with positive news to share.
"I'll be putting my name in the hat for this next game," he said.
"I wouldn't say that I'm 100 per cent because I haven't bowled the
full amount of overs that I should. It is a different kind of intensity
and that is why there will be a decision to be made.
"It will be up to the management whether I've bowled enough and am
ready to go. But if they were to look at my style of bowling and think
it could be beneficial then my name is in the hat."
With James Anderson flying home England do have a vacancy in the seam
attack and, even though Wood openly rates himself less likely than
Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes to fill it, he insists previous struggles
with self-belief are no more.
"If I'm honest I think Jofra and Woakesy are ahead of me in the pecking order," was his typically frank assessment.
"But I'd love to think this is my period of time, where I've got
through those hard times, and now I can kick on. I'm not even in the
team at the minute but I feel much happier within myself, I feel I'm an
England cricketer rather than just someone that's always pushing to try
and get into the team.
"Off the back of 2019, the West Indies trip and the World Cup, I felt
I was in great form and great rhythm and that intrinsic feeling of
bowling well is what I want to get back to.
"The St Lucia Test is lodged in my mind as one of the best days I've
had, so if I can replicate that I'll be pretty happy. Confidence is a
massive thing and now I know that I can do it. I know how I can perform,
rather than potential, I know now I can deliver if called upon."
England may be wary of pairing Wood and Archer in the same XI next
week, with the latter also working back from an elbow injury, but the
idea of the duo pushing each other on as they did during the World Cup
"We have a friendly rivalry over the speed gun," admitted Wood.
"I do like the idea of the two of us operating together in a Test
match, as long as he's not a mid-off asking me if I'm just warming up
when I've bent my back.
"In the World Cup final I knew that I'd pipped him. I was clocked at
95.7mph and he was 95.6mph and as we came off the field and into the
dressing room I was dying to tell him."
- TeamTalk Media