Mark Wood has revealed the harrowing surgical procedure that finally fixed his elbow and allowed England’s current fastest bowler to announce his return from a six-month absence with one of the fastest spells in history.
During a blistering opening two-over burst in his first appearance since the first Test in the Caribbean in March, Wood matched the 97-mile-per-hour thunderbolt scholarship that Ashington native Steve Harmison produced during the 2006 Perth Ashes match- 07.
He removed Thursday’s centurion Babar Azam for cents, helped Pakistan reel off the powerplay four wickets down and hurled them towards a 63-run smarting that means England go into tonight’s fourth and final Twenty20 at the National Stadium ahead of 2- 1.
Mark Wood has revealed the gruesome operation he needed to ensure his elbow was fixed
Despite the limited workload, the 32-year-old said his 4-0-24-3 effort on Friday had left him feeling tired but equally reassured that a second operation in July had resolved a lingering problem from the first operation in the spring.
After a comeback in league cricket, Wood could not straighten his right arm and with next month’s Twenty20 World Cup on his mind, he was soon in the presence of the specialist again.
“I mentioned that I felt it was more bowling away,” Wood recalled, miming the motion of the elbow in such an action.
So when he knocked me out, he twisted my wrist and a ligament kept flapping into my joint the whole time.
The England bowler bowled a record-like 97-mph ball against Pakistan on Friday
‘They took all the bits of bone out of my arm, but the main problem was this ligament that was trapped in my joint – that’s why I got the pain. So he cut the ligament and it’s been fine ever since.’
England have certainly missed Wood’s pace. After Pakistan leveled the seven-match series 24 hours earlier, stand-in captain Moeen Ali bemoaned the lack of bouncers from his attack.
The Durham man wasted no time in redressing that balance. Taking his lead from Haris Rauf, the opposition bowler he saw most like himself, he aimed for the middle of the pitch and let its natural variation do the rest.
“There were a couple of quick balls but I didn’t think I was bowling 95-96 so it was nice to hear that it was the pace that came back,” Wood said.
England stand-in captain Moeen Ali was delighted to see Mark Wood return to team form
Among England bowlers, he is an anomaly, not just because of the speed at which he releases the ball: his record 41 Test wickets at under 25 runs apiece overseas is a significant upgrade on his figures at home.
And after picking up man-of-the-match awards in away wins against the West Indies and South Africa and winning plaudits for last year’s Ashes displays, he is ready to graft here across three Tests in December.
“If they want me, I’m ready to go,” he added. ‘The Test performances have given me faith in all the formats because if you can do it at that level, I feel I can do it at any level. The ruthless nature of Test match cricket can also be carried over to T20.
‘I know it’s very different, but in a Test match you are in the limelight for a long time and you have to constantly be on it. There’s nowhere to hide because it’s on for so long. In T20 it’s very similar, it’s short and sharp, but they come after you every ball and you have to be on it.’
Wood has praised England’s Harry Brook, comparing his playing style to AB de Villiers
One player Wood won’t have to worry about coming after him is team-mate Harry Brook, who marked his eighth cap on Friday night with a stunning 81 not out from 35 balls.
And for one aspect of his developing game, the 23-year-old Yorkshireman drew a favorable comparison from the England dugout.
Wood said: ‘I know it’s very early so it’s a massive shout but he reminds me of AB de Villiers who would pick the field and say “this is what they’re going to bowl so I’ll hit this.”
‘He has, he almost knows what you’re going to bowl before you bowl it. So far he’s got all the answers.’
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