Wood eager to get himself up for more 'thunderbolts' in Manchester

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"I have to let the body recover." ~ Mark Wood
"I have to let the body recover." ~ Mark Wood © AFP

England fast bowler Mark Wood is eager to launch more 'thunderbolts' at Australia in the remaining two Tests of this enthralling Ashes series that he helped keep alive with a memorable performance at Headingley. The 33-year-old is confident his body will hold up to the rigours of bowling fast despite not being conditioned enough to take such loads owing to limited playing time in the year so far.

Nearly two years since his last home Test and having sat out the first two games of the series, at Edgbaston and Lord's, Wood was unleashed rather belatedly in Leeds by Ben Stokes with a rather simple instruction. "He [Stokes' just asked: 'Are you ready? Are you ready to bowl some thunderbolts?' I said yes, and that was it," Wood revealed.

The speedster injected much-needed oomph to England's attack, his bowling speed peaking at 96.5mph on the opening day of the Leeds Test, which he ended with his maiden Test match five-fer on home soil. While Wood's focus has shifted in keeping up his average speeds, the likes of which have not been seen in an Ashes series since Brett Lee's efforts in 2005, the immediate task in hand is to recover well before the next Test in Manchester.

A free week, therefore, heading in to Old Trafford is particularly crucial for an injury-prone Wood, who hadn't played any competitive cricket since his stint with the Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL leading up to the Test match in Leeds. "This was my first game in a very, very long time, especially in Test cricket. I will let the body recover, get myself in a good space, let the wounds recover and get myself up for the next one," he said.

"I did four [Tests] in Australia last time and three of them were in a row," Wood said. "It's a big ask, but one I've done before and I will lean on that experience to try to do it again. I will speak to the physio, but I imagine I will bowl once or twice, do a couple of gym sessions, maybe some running, but it won't be too drastic. I have to let the body recover."

As impressive as his bowling speeds and his seven wickets in the match were, Wood also stepped up with the bat in each innings at Headingley. He added 24 off just 8 deliveries in the first innings to eat into the deficit and followed that up with a priceless 16 not-out in the second dig to squeeze England over the line in an eighth-wicket stand with Mark Wood.

"It fills me with great pride to say I can do well against Australia," Wood said. "Look at facing Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. One, it's not easy. Two, it's really intimidating. They're bowling fast, they get good bounce. More often than not they come out on top. Luckily this time it's the one out of a hundred I managed to get through."

Wood's heroics and England's comeback in the third Test prompted have ushered in another round of throwbacks to the iconic 2005 series with each game in the ongoing so far going down to the wire. Wood, though, said those comparisons might just be a little premature.

"When you're in it I think you don't appreciate it as much," he said. "For me, 2005 was the absolute pinnacle. I don't feel like it's been to that magnitude, but it's great to have that support, which has been amazing everywhere we've been. You feel it on the street walking around, people messaging. It's amazing as a nation that we can carry this weight of support with us."




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