England captain Joe Root is already excited about the possibility of letting Mark Wood’s raw pace loose in this summer’s Ashes.
Wood walked away with the man-of-the-match award after England’s consolation victory in the third West Indies Test in St Lucia, a 232-run hammering that left the hosts with a 2-1 series win.
James Anderson reduced the Windies to 10-3 with a clinical new-ball spell and spinner Moeen Ali picked up three of his own but Roston Chase delayed the celebrations with a fine 102 not out.
Durham seamer Wood sent down an astonishing spell on fast bowling in the first innings, taking five wickets and breaking the 94mph barrier – speeds not seen from an Englishman in at least a decade.
England have just one more Test, against Ireland, before they attempt to win the urn back from Australia and Root is looking forward to see the rejuvenated Wood cause a stir.
“If he’s firing fit then I’m sure it’ll make some great TV and it would be great to be part of,” said second-innings centurion Root when asked about Wood’s potential Ashes impact.
“It’s great when you see him unleash himself and bowl with that pace and freedom. There’s enjoyment too, you always feel you’re getting the best out of Woody when he enjoys himself on the field.
“I don’t think I’ve been stood as far back at slip before. I’m trying to nurse a hole in my hand from that first catch I managed to cling on to. We might have be smart about how we use him – it’s a learning curve for me, I am by no means the finished article as captain.”
Wood’s reward for his performance at the Darren Sammy Stadium was an all-expenses paid trip to a luxury holiday resort in the Caribbean, though he may struggle to fit it in.
The ferocity he showed in both innings on his first Test appearance in nine months would make him a vital weapon across all formats, with a home World Cup immediately before the Australia Test series.
But, having suffered injury lay-offs and dips in form before, he was careful not to get ahead of himself.
“It’s been a great game and one I’ll always remember, but let’s see what the future holds,” he said.
“Both teams, the Test and ODI, have great players…it’s hard to get in. It will take another good performance to cement my place but I go into the one-day series here with confidence. I didn’t think I’d get a day like I did the other day. Plenty of people were pleased for me and I appreciate the support, I had millions of messages.”
Success in what was effectively a dead rubber in terms of the series will not paper over the heavy defeats in Barbados and Antigua, leaving Root with questions to ponder as skipper.
“It’s been a tough old tour, we played some poor cricket at times,” he said.
“It was really important we won this week. There’s very big games around the corner, whether it’s world Cup cricket or the Ashes and for this team to show that ‘bouncebackability’ and strength of character holds us in good stead heading into a high pressure summer.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
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