Mark Wood

'Jofra and Woakesy are ahead of me in the pecking order' – Mark Wood

England fast bowler Mark Wood is honest in making a critical assessment of himself but hopes he gets chance to feature in the third Test against South Africa.

Wood was England's second-best bowler at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, where he picked up 18 wickets in 10 matches. Apart from bowling the difficult overs at the death for his team, he consistently got some key wickets in the middle phase, like that of Ross Taylor in the thrilling final at Lord's, but a side strain and a knee surgery have kept him out of the side since.

While Wood is in England's squad for the South Africa series, he was overlooked for the first two Tests. He realizes that Jofra Archer's meteoric rise in international cricket and Chris Woakes utility as an all-rounder puts them above him in the "pecking order" but after putting in the hours in the nets, he believes he is now fit and ready to give it a go in the subsequent Tests.

"I'll be putting my name in the hat for this next game," he said. "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.

"If I'm honest I think Jofra [Archer] and Woakesy [Chris Woakes] are ahead of me in the pecking order," he added. "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."

"I’ve heard the fourth Test in Johannesburg might suit me better because the ground is at altitude and the pitch is bouncier. Confidence is a massive thing. I know I can do it now."

I'll be putting my name in the hat for this next game. It will be up to the management whether I've bowled enough and am ready to go.

Mark Wood

Wood was also lavish in his praise for Archer, who he thinks is more talented than him. Wood shed light on the "speed gun" rivalry the two bowlers had been a part of in the World Cup. 

"We have a friendly rivalry over the speed gun. It’s nice that we spur each other on," admitted Wood. "In the World Cup, when I bowled one that was quite quick on the speed gun, I’d look over to Jofra and give him a little wink — and he would do the same to me.

"In the final, I knew I’d pipped him. I was clocked at 95.7mph and he was 95.6mph and, as we came off the field, I was dying to tell him. I said to him as he walked into the dressing room, ‘Jofra! I’ve got you! I’ve done you on the speed gun’.

"He is talented, more talented than I am" – Wood on Archer

"He strolled past, fresh as a daisy, looked me up and down with ice packs on my side, my knee and my ankle and said, ‘But I think I’d rather be me’. And I was like, ‘Yeah, fair enough, mate.’"

The third Test begins on Thursday, 16 January in Port Elizabeth. The series is currently tied at 1-1.