Mark Wood has become one of the world’s most feared pace bowlers as England strive for global glory


Mark Wood has become one of the world’s most feared pace bowlers as England strive for global glory but faces a late fitness test to be selected for Sunday’s T20 World Cup final against Pakistan

  • Paceman Mark Wood has starred for England at the T20 World Cup in Australia
  • The 32-year-old pace bowler produced the fastest bowl of the tournament
  • And has become one of the world’s most potent pace bowlers with England
  • But faces a late fitness test to decide if he will be involved against India 

The fact that England gave Mark Wood every chance to prove his fitness on the eve of the World Cup final tells you everything about his current standing as the global scene’s most feared man.

In Wood, England not only possess the fast bowler to have hit top speed at the tournament but someone who has consistently been faster. 

Yes, others have produced similar levels of pace at times but they have been unable to sustain it like the 32-year-old, who has neglected the opportunity to go up and down the gears, opting instead to operate exclusively in sixth.

England’s Mark Wood will be hoping to feature in England’s T20 World Cup final on Sunday

Wood (right) has cemented his status as one of the world's most dangerous fast bowlers

Wood (right) has cemented his status as one of the world’s most dangerous fast bowlers

Indeed, to emphasise his premier status, six of the quickest 10 balls by anyone have been released from Wood’s grasp and at the point he registered his 30th delivery of 93.2 miles per hour (150 kilometres per hour) or more, his nearest rival was still in single figures. His average speed is 92mph.

It appeared his contribution to England’s quest to become the first team to hold both white-ball World Cup titles simultaneously had run its course when a hip injury ruled him out of the landslide semi-final win over India on Thursday.

But he left the pre-toss call on his participation against Pakistan at the MCG down to the England management after bowling with no issues in the nets yesterday. Privately last night, he was telling people he’d had a good day and it was now down to a matter of selection.

Wood was forced to sit-out of England's T20 semi-final win over India through injury

Wood was forced to sit-out of England’s T20 semi-final win over India through injury

Wood took three wickets in England's thumping World Cup win over title hopefuls Sri Lanka

Wood took three wickets in England’s thumping World Cup win over title hopefuls Sri Lanka

Given their dismantling of India’s stellar cast at the Adelaide Oval in midweek, the selectors may not wish to tinker unnecessarily, although they might consider a gamble on Wood to be one worth taking.

Especially in Melbourne, where the dimensions of the playing area – huge acreage square of the wicket contrasting to much less space down the ground – make it hard for batters to get cross-batted strokes to the boundary.

Wood (right) and Chris Woakes (left) discuss tactics in training

Wood (right) and Chris Woakes (left) discuss tactics in training

And given the opponents are Pakistan, a team he terrorised just a few short weeks ago during a 4-3 series win which could and arguably should have finished 6-1 in England’s favour. 

Had Wood played more than twice in a tentative comeback from missing the summer through injury, it almost certainly would have.

Across two matches, he returned figures of 8-0-4-4-6, his hostility neutering a Pakistan top two of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan who made merry in his absence.

Neither should Wood’s contributions be taken in isolation. Since his return to international cricket in September, he has taken 18 wickets in seven matches but such influence runs beyond raw statistics, as good as they are.

Pace does funny things to batsmen and while it is hard to equate how much effect the Durham man’s presence in the attack has, it is fair to say that with him bowling at one end, they may take greater chances against bowlers at the other.

Those arguing his absence was not felt against India, would be overlooking the Indians’ own contribution to their sorry exit. Only the United Arab Emirates scored slower in the power play during this tournament. Contrastingly, Pakistan have upped their scoring rates in the first six overs since arriving in Australia.

Wood has had to undergo a late fitness test on Saturday to determine his availability

Wood has had to undergo a late fitness test on Saturday to determine his availability

Wood (left) has become one of the most potent pace bowlers in the world with England

Wood (left) has become one of the most potent pace bowlers in the world with England

It is a period which will prove hugely influential in both innings, with Pakistan possessing the quickest quartet in the tournament in Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Harris Rauf and Mohammad Wasim.

The presence of two spinning all-rounders in Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz allows the Pakistanis to field all four.

Wood is keen to make history against Pakistan in Sunday's T20 World Cup final at the MGC

Wood is keen to make history against Pakistan in Sunday’s T20 World Cup final at the MGC

With that in mind, England were also last night considering recalling Dawid Malan – a good player of pace – following his own successful fitness check yesterday.

But it is the Wood question that will be at the forefront of their minds as they seek more World Cup final glory.

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